EDL protests and counter protests in Manchester

By Will Astbury

Plans have been revealed for a English Defence League protest and counter protests to take place in Manchester.

The English Defence League (EDL) is an organisation that is against Islamic extremism in Britain and claims to reject fascism, the British National Party (BNP), and that it welcomes any race or faith into the organisation.

EDL say it is planning a peaceful demonstration in Manchester city centre on Saturday 10 October.

However, Manchester City Council have called for a ban on the EDL rally after the EDL’s earlier protests in Luton and Birmingham resulted in serious public disorder and dozens of arrests by police. At the Birmingham event more than 90 arrests were made.

It is not clear whether the violence was started by the EDL or by individuals or organisations that oppose it.

Greater Manchester Unite Against Fascism (GMUAF) is organising a counter protest to the EDL’s rally in Manchester on the same day at Piccadilly Gardens at 12 noon.

The GMUAF released a statement which said: “We strongly oppose plans by the ‘English Defence League’, a group linked to the fascist BNP, to demonstrate in Manchester city centre.

“EDL is a racist group dedicated to attacking Asian people and Muslims. Islamophobia – bigotry against Muslims – is as unacceptable as any other form of racism. Its aim is to divide us by making scapegoats of one community, just as the Nazis did with the Jews in the 1930s.

“There is no place for Nazis, racists or the BNP in Manchester’s multicultural and multi religious community. Come and join the peaceful protest to stop the EDL.”

The EDL claim that they accept Muslim members but reject extremism. On YouTube, videos of EDL supports can be found burning Nazi flags and carrying banners stating ‘black and white unite’ and ‘love England hate extremism’.

Backing the GMUAF, Heather Fletcher of the Muslim-Jewish Forum in Manchester and Rev Father Kevin Crinks of the Parish of St Mary in Wigan said: “Today they threaten the mosque – tomorrow it could be a synagogue, temple or church.”

Khan Moghal, the chief executive of Manchester Council for Communtiy Relations (MCCR), said: “The previous actions by EDL have resulted in unsavoury scenes. The MCCR are asking the people of Manchester not to be provoked by the EDL.

“We also urge community activists not to be drawn into confrontation with the EDL and to avoid the demonstration.We will continue to strengthen the bonds between all communities and defeat extremists whether political-minded or faith-based.”

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