No to EDL, Manchester will say on Saturday

EDL rally

EDL rally

“The EDL do not speak our language,” says North West MEP

The voice of multi-cultural Manchester will be heard in Piccadilly Gardens this Saturday in a counter protest to that of far right English Defence League (EDL).

The event, which starts at 12 noon in the centre of Manchester, will be followed by a march through streets as the EDL holds a static gathering.

Member of the European Parliament for the North West, Julie Ward, said: Manchester is the third most ethnically diverse city in the world. More than 200 languages are spoken here and this rich mix is good for the city.

“Working across Europe, I have seen the frightening spectre of xenophobic far-right parties who would seek to divide our communities. We must not let that happen in our proud multi-cultural Britain.”

Ms Ward, who stood against the BNP in last year’s elections, added: “We owe it to those who gave their lives against the fascists of the last century to be vigilant now and speak out wherever and whenever we see, hear or witness racism.

“The EDL do not speak our language.”

Newcastle police praised in light of Pegida rally

Earlier this week members from Unite Against Fascism (UAF) and the Northern Police Monitoring Project met with Greater Manchester Police (GMP) to discuss the anti-racist event.

The Northern Police Monitoring Project spoke of the “excellent example” set by police in Newcastle recently when far right group, Pegida, found themselves heavily outnumbered by anti-fascist protesters.  UAF assured police that the the rally in Manchester would pass off peacefully and asked GMP be vigilant for any kind of incitement to violence from EDL members.

The English Defence League, which claims to be non-racist, has been accused in the past of inciting anti-Islamic sentiment at its rallies.

On its website the the groups says that it will be demonstrating in Manchester “against Muslim Grooming Gangs and Human Trafficking of White English Children.”

The multi-cultural counter protest will see representatives from trade unions, including UNISON and the Trades Union Congress (TUC).

Rena Wood, of the North West TUC Executive Committee says: “UNISON has a very proud anti-racist history. Our anti-racist commitment is based on the principles of unity and solidarity.”

She went on to condemn the “scapegoating” of migrants to the UK for a lack of jobs and housing shortages, while President of the Greater Manchester Stop the War Coalition, Ron Senchak, said that racism and Islamaphobia are a “growing threat”.

“Emotions will run high” says Chief Super, John O’Hare

Speaking on behalf of GMP, Chief Superintendent John O’Hare said: “Greater Manchester Police respects everyone’s fundamental human right to a peaceful protest.

“We understand that emotions will run high where there will be individuals with polarised views and we will do everything possible to get the balance right.

“However the right to free speech and protest comes with a responsibly and I must stress that anyone found to behaving in an intimidating or criminal manner will be dealt with accordingly.”

He went on to say that while there will be an increased presence in the city centre on Saturday, GMP have a good reputation of policing protests and working with organisers to minimise any risk to members of the public.

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