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'Go about your normal business', urges police chief
6:00am Saturday 12th October 2013 in News
Bradford’s police chief yesterday addressed thousands of Muslims across the city, urging them to let officers “do what they do well” when the English Defence League visits Bradford today.
Chief Superintendent Simon Atkin, divisional commander of Bradford South Police, addressed worshippers at Bradford Central Mosque during Friday prayers yesterday to reassure them that police would deal with demonstrators during this afternoon’s protest.
In a message which was relayed to every mosque in the city and heard by 120,000 Muslims, he urged people to enjoy a “normal Saturday”.
He told them: “I’m here as your police commander to reassure and to ask for your trust and confidence to allow the police to deal with the protest.
“I want all the different community members in Bradford to have confidence that the police will deal with the protest to allow you to go about your daily activities on a normal Saturday in Bradford.
“I know it is the weekend before Eid, so I hope you have a fantastic weekend and allow West Yorkshire Police to do what it does well.”
Chief Supt Atkin spoke of West Yorkshire Police’s experience of dealing with protests and assured worshippers there will be a large police presence in the city centre today.
“There will be a significant number of police officers in Bradford city centre to ensure you can go shopping, enjoy the civic space and do whatever you would normally do on a Saturday in Bradford,” he added.
Zulfi Karim, general secretary of the Central Mosque and the senior vice president of Bradford Council for Mosques, said every mosque across the city had hosted a representative from Bradford Council and the police during Friday prayers.
The leader of Bradford Council, Councillor David Green, and chief executive Tony Reeves were among those to listen to Chf Supt Atkin’s address at the Central Mosque.
Mr Karim said it showed “unity”.
He said: “We welcome dialogue with everyone. Relations here continue to be compromised by recent events here and abroad, creating fear and anxiety amongst different community groups.
“The EDL’s visit is not helping the situation.
“I would urge Mosque leadership and Muslims to engage in dialogue with all communities, not just in Bradford but nationally.
“We all want the same for our city and our country, which is for Britain to be a prosperous and harmonious nation.”