City braced for weekend protests
THE English Defence League will press ahead with plans to march in Leicester this weekend despite a Home Office ban.
Home Secretary Theresa May announced a ban on the march yesterday saying the group, and its opponents Unite Against Fascism, would be breaking the law if they attempted to march in the city centre on Saturday.
She agreed to the ban following join concerns by Leicester City Council and Leicestershire Police.
A Home Office spokesman said: “Having carefully balanced rights to protest against the need to ensure local communities and property are protected, the Home Secretary gave her consent to a Leicester City Council Order banning any marches in the city on October 9.”
Despite the ban, groups can still hold static demonstrations in the city.
But in a statement EDL event organiser Guramit Singh said the group will be withdrawing from week-long talks between the council and police and would press ahead with the protest march on Saturday.
“The English Defence League will be coming to Leicester and we will have our march,” he said in a statement.
The Bishop of Leicester, the Right Reverend Tim Stevens, who previously condemned the EDL’s activities, said he was “relieved” the march had been banned.
He said: “I am relieved but I still have real concerns. We must continue to approach the situation with caution and care and do everything in our power to ensure the life of the city is not disrupted.”
He added: We condemn all who seek to divide and sow the seeds of distrust between our communities. In particular we condemn, in the strongest terms, the activities of the English Defence League, directed against our Muslim brothers and sisters. We also affirm that the EDL’s use of the Christian religion to support their perspective is a blasphemous misinterpretation of the Christian Gospel.”
Meanwhile some 150 people packed a public meeting at a main Gurdwara in the heart of Leicester’s Sikh community in response to the impending protest.
The meeting, called by the Indian Workers Association (IWA) discussed the community’s response to the demonstration.
Sital Singh Gill of the IWA told the meeting: “The Sikh community has a proud tradition of opposing racism and fascism wherever it raises its head.
“The EDL say they are against the ‘Muslim extremists’, but we know first they will come for the Muslims, then the Sikhs, then the Hindus.
“The Indian community fought for Britain against the Nazis in the second world war – what right have the EDL to say this isn’t our country. The community cohesion we have has been hard fought for and we are not going to lose it.”