Multi-cultural campaigner voices fears about EDL march
A LEADING campaigner for multiculturalism has spoken about the fear in Bristol's Islamic communities ahead of a planned march through the city by far-right group the English Defence League.
Meanwhile the group has outlined to the Post why it is coming to Bristol.
Forward Maisokwadzo, pictured, co-ordinator of the City of Sanctuary organisation, which encourages multicultural integration in the city, says the refugee communities and Muslim communities in particular are nervous about the planned march on Saturday, July 14.
"Of course everyone has the right and the liberty to march and demonstrate in order to make their opinion known," he says. "But we are concerned that the opinion they are wishing to make known is particularly divisive – it is aiming to marginalise communities, rather than to unite people of different backgrounds and cultures.
"At the very least this march will make refugee communities who have already suffered considerably, feel unwelcome in Bristol. We just hope that the verbal aggression shown by the EDL doesn't spill out into something even worse – physical violence."
The group has already come under heavy criticism for planning the march to coincide with gay pride events taking place in the city that day, with pride festival director Daryn Carter calling on the league to stage its march on another day.
But a spokesman for the EDL denied the organisation was either homophobic or racist.
In a statement given to the Post, attributed to a pseudonym, William Tyndale (the 16th century Protestant reformer), the EDL said: "We are going to Bristol because we wish to draw public attention to Islamic grooming, the refusal of Muslims to integrate into British society and the increasing attacks by Muslims on non-Muslim Britons.
"We are coming to Bristol to raise awareness of these problems and to call for a unified country under one democratic government, one law and one society grounded in British culture and traditions.
"We want to call attention to the creeping Islamisation of Britain, with the increased use of halal meat whether non-Muslims want it or not. We want to make people aware that our way of life and our culture are under threat from people who don't care for our culture, country or humanity."
He adds that it is "a lie that we are going to Bristol to target Muslim communities and the Somali communities in particular. In all of the three years of the EDL's existence, the EDL has never targeted Muslims, nor Muslim communities and their mosques."
Yesterday the Post reported that Bristol East Labour MP Kerry McCarthy had called for the EDL march to be banned.
But last night the city's cabinet councillor for community safety, Gary Hopkins, said police advice was that a ban "would not be helpful" as it could mean less control over events.
He said: "Leaders of the Muslim community have shown great restraint and dignity with calls to ignore the EDL rather than counter-demonstrate, which would be highly likely to lead to violence.
"We would urge others to demonstrate a similarly statesmanlike approach."