POLICE have obtained an order to restrict a right-wing group's protests over the serving of Halal meat at Blackburn's Kentucky Fried Chicken.

Officers acted after seven nights of demonstrations kicked off with scenes of disorder as 50 English Defence League protestors descended on the Haslingden Road restaurant.

Four men were arrested on suspected public order offences late on Sunday and a skip was set on fire.

The problems prompted police to obtain an order which limits the protests to no more than nine demonstrators and means they must end their action by 7.30pm each day.

And last night there were signs the order was working, with only eight protestors on site who pledged to follow the police line.

The EDL, a right-wing group which says it is against the 'Islamification' of England', is protesting about KFC's decision to pilot the use of Halal meat at the Blackburn restaurant.

Activists had pledged to demonstrate for seven nights from Sunday.

Senior officers took advantage of a little-used piece of legislation called a Section 14 order to bring in the restrictions.

A police spokesman said: "Whilst the police are keen to respect the demonstrators' rights to lawful protest, restrictions have been deemed necessary to maintain public order and reassure the public in the Blackburn area, following minor incidents of disorder that occurred on Saturday."

Salim Mulla, chairman of the Lancashire Council of Mosques (LCM), said he had spoken with police over the protests and backed officers' actions.

He said: "We don't want any confrontation. We have asked the youth to keep away from the area.

"That is the message we are sending out and to let the police do their job.

"The EDL are totally unrepresentative of British society. We don't want to give them any prominence.

"Most people are willing to work together for better understanding of each other."

However, despite the protests, Coun Mulla said the LCM did not accept that KFC's meat was Halal.

He said to be granted the status by the LCM the killing needed to be taken in the name of God, be hand slaughtered and ensure the three main veins are cut so death is instant.

Coun Mulla said: "This method is less cruel than other methods and that has been shown in evidence from scientists.

"KFC stun the animals first and use a mechanical slaughter device, so we cannot support that."

Blackburn MP Jack Straw said no-one had ever complained to him about the serving of Halal meat.

He said: "I eat Halal and I have never had any problems with it.

"The police action to me seems to be perfectly sensible.

"This seems to be an effort by these people are more right-wing than the BNP to stir up problems which don't exist."

Last night eight people from EDL gathered to protest outside the KFC.

A spokesman for the EDL said: "We have agreed with the police their conditions are fair enough and we are happy to abide by them.

"We are here to stop the Islamification of England.

"There are quite a few issues which concern us, such as the welfare of the animals that are slaughtered."

A spokesperson for KFC said they were carrying out the Halal trial due to demand from customers.

He said: "Overall response has been positive. Our Halal chicken is still stunned before slaughter.

"However we have made sure that there is a non-Halal restaurant nearby, to give customers a choice.

"Police advised us of these planned protests, which are the actions of a very small minority, and while we acknowledge the right to peaceful demonstration, we do not tolerate any anti-social behaviour at our stores."

>> Your views

Shelley Aspin, 17, from Blackburn, said: “They should tell people that it’s Halal and let them make their own minds up. As long as the customers know, it’s fine.”

Kayleigh Sheldrick, 19, from Blackburn, said: “Subway is Halal and lots of takeaways are. KFC have the right to serve what they like. I’m not sure what all the fuss is about.”

John Ashton, 67, from Blackburn said: “I’ve not had any but if it tasted all right I would eat it. I would have a go. Once the chicken is dead, it’s dead.”

Susan Law, 63, from Bacup, said: “It’s cleaner, apparently, but I don’t feel that strongly either way. It’s OK with me if they do Halal or they don’t.”

Dean of Blackburn, Reverend Chris Armstrong said: “I would eat it myself. So many people in the world are starving. It seems wrong to be so picky.”

Hamza Raja, 20, from Preston, said: “Without this change to Halal, I wouldn’t be able to go to KFC, so I think it’s great.”