English Defence League Protest in Manchester on the 10th October 2009
Firstly, we would like to thank the Greater Manchester Police, and any others involved in policing the demonstrations in the city centre this past Saturday. They were very accommodating and went out of their way to ensure that both our protest and the counter-protest by the UAF passed peacefully, which was our desire as well as theirs. We do have concerns about the way in which large numbers of our supporters were kept from assembling with the main body in Piccadilly Gardens, a restriction that does not seem to have been applied with equal rigour to the counter-demonstrators, but on the whole we applaud the GMT for their professionalism and their willingness to ensure that we were allowed to peacefully demonstrate despite intimidation from the UAF and others who would prefer that no one but themselves have freedom of speech.
We were permitted to stage our demonstration much earlier than our planned 5pm start, and despite provocation and noise from the UAF during our two minute silence, we did not allow it to derail us and went ahead with honouring the fallen, whom the UAF so callously disrespected. As we stated at the time, the silence was to remember all British soldiers who have died in wars past and present to defend our freedoms, and also to remember the victims of the terrorists who would take those freedoms away. We were disgusted, as were thousands of onlookers, by the din which a UAF organiser with a megaphone made during this silence. We then sung our National Anthem, and because of the early start, were able to conclude early as well, having fulfilled our goals for the day. Despite repeated UAF attempts to break through the police line, which resulted in the arrests of several troublemakers, we are happy to report that they did not “run us out of town” as they had planned.
We are very pleased with the turnout for the demonstration, and we would like to thank all our members and supporters who attended in Manchester, even those who were prevented from getting through to Piccadilly Gardens, as well as those who were not able to be there but whose donations contributed to the effort. In Manchester we were able to demonstrate, despite the best efforts of the media to downplay the significance of what took place, that there are thousands of people who are prepared to stand up and say that Islamic extremism has no place in Britain, and that British values are something of which to be proud, not ashamed. We can confirm that we had in excess of 1,500 active participants in the City, in Piccadilly Gardens and scattered around the city centre, and the support we received from people of all races who applauded us as we walked by was extraordinarily encouraging. The UAF’s dishonest attempts to paint us as racists or to link us to the BNP, who we denounce, are looking increasingly ridiculous.
We are pleased as well that it appears that there was no major Asian turnout against us. We have heard that community leaders encouraged people not to counter-demonstrate, and we hope that this is because they realise that we have nothing against British Asians. Indeed, we want above all to welcome them as fellow Englishmen, and deplore only hate preachers such as the vile Anjem Choudry, who insists that the most important distinction is between Muslims and non-Muslims, and troublemakers such as Salma Yaqoob, who is trying to keep Asians from integrating in order to secure for herself a permanent power base in that community. We understand that many Asians or their ancestors came here to escape oppressive laws in other countries, and we hope that in the future they will stand with us against bringing those laws here to Britain.
We believe that this movement has reached a major milestone in Manchester, and we hope now that the citizens of England, along with our Scottish, Welsh, and Northern Irish cousins, regardless of race or religion, will feel comfortable in joining with us against radical Islam and the division that it preaches and breeds in our communities without fear of being ignorantly and incorrectly branded as racist or Nazi. We believe that as our message reaches more and more of the ordinary people of Britain, we will continue to gain support from across the political and social spectrum. Our goal is to have all the people of Britain united in telling the extremists themselves and our woefully inactive government that there is no place for radical Islam in our society.
Mr. Weyman Bennett of the UAF has claimed in a radio interview that members of his organisation received a telephone call from us in which we invited them to meet up for a “punch-up” before the demonstration in Manchester. This is rubbish. We do not doubt that his organisation received a phone call or even that the caller said what he claims. After all, we received a similar invitation via email, from someone claiming to be in the UAF. Someone was trying to provoke violence, but it wasn’t us, and we gave Mr. Bennett’s organisation the benefit of the doubt and assumed it wasn’t them either. He should have reacted in the same way that we did–ignore it, and not use it as a cheap publicity stunt. The email in question can be made available to the police and/or Mr. Bennett if either or both wish to see it. The EDL is firmly committed to peaceful protest, and has no intention to engage in violence in any form. We wish the same could be said of the UAF members who tried to break through police lines to attack us on Saturday.