“FOR the English Defence League (EDL) to say they are protecting Coventry from Islamophobia is a sick, sick joke.”
That is the view of a spokesperson from counter-group Unite Against Fascism (UAF) who says Coventry must unite against the ‘racism and hatred’ of the EDL’s message.
The spokesperson, who did not want to be named for fear of repercussions from the far-right group, welcomed the open letter from the Bishop of Coventry and director of the Coventry Migrant and Refugee Centre, but said there needed to be a strong, physical presence in the city centre this weekend to ‘send a clear message’ of unity.
Comparing the EDL’s views to those of Adolph Hitler, the spokesperson said it was a ‘sick joke’ for the EDL to describe Coventry as a ‘once-proud cathedral city’ that needs protection from being turned into a ‘Muslim ghetto’ when it was Hitler who sanctioned the Coventry Blitz in 1940.
They added: “The EDL stand in the same tradition of Hitler with their pure and irrational hatred of people based on their religion, the way they dress and their way of life..
“At the heart of every statement the EDL makes is Islamophobia – an irrational fear and hatred of Muslim people.
“I have spent the last few weeks handing out thousands of leaflets and speaking to Coventry residents and only one has told me they agree with what the EDL are saying.
“It is vital that all those that are appalled by the Islamophobia and racism of the EDL demonstrate that we are the majority and that they are not welcome here.”
Promising the UAF counter-demonstration will be a celebration of Coventry’s diversity, the spokesperson slammed suggestions that ignoring the EDL and not staging a rally of their own would be the most effective form of resistance.
They argued: “To ignore the EDL would big mistake as they will not just go away, it will give them confidence to return to the city.
“We need to do is oppose them in large number and demonstrate that we do not want them here.
“We respect the police but we must not leave it to them – we love this wonderful, multi-cultural city and need to show that love on Saturday.
“We are united together against the EDL’s messages of hate and will not let them divide our community.”
Unite Against Fascism will stage a counter demonstration on Saturday starting at 11.30am in Broadgate.