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'No place for these racist extremists' in our city
6:00am Thursday 10th October 2013 in News
The Telegraph & Argus asked prominent members of the Bradford community for their views on the planned demonstration Saturday.
Bana Gora, the head of Muslims Women’s Council said: “On October 12 the EDL plan to hold an anti-Islam protest in Bradford.
“This is a diverse and complicated city which does not need hooligans or extremists spreading suspicion and fear. The MWC fully supports the Bradford Women for Peace event (Bradford Together), on Friday in Centenary Square.
“The MWC supports the leader of Bradford Council David Green’s recent letter to the Prime Minister asking him to see what can be done to address the concerns of Bradfordians as the EDL plans to hold a demonstration this weekend.
“The EDL leader Tommy Robinson has announced he is stepping down. He says he can no longer control extremists within the EDL. What does that say about the fundamental ideology behind this group?
“We encourage Bradfordians to come and celebrate, to symbolise hope, renewal, nurturing and peace. We should collectively send out a united message, organisations promoting race and religious hatred are not welcome in our city.”
The Bishop of Bradford, the Right Reverend Nick Baines, said: “The first question to ask of the English Defence League is: what sort of ‘England’ do you think you are defending? Is the answer something like: racist, violent, anti-social and destructive?
“Where the EDL goes, they disturb ordinary people’s lives, and leave behind a huge financial cost to the police and local authorities. Many ordinary citizens speak of feeling violated.
“It is interesting that the leaders of the EDL have just announced their departure on the grounds that the organization has become too extreme and has fallen into the hands of the far right. Well, past experience would suggest that none of this should have come as a blinding revelation.
“But, Tommy Robinson has now distinguished between ‘Islamist ideology’ and ‘Muslims’: he wants to be against the former, but not the latter.
“For Bradford this is significant. Bradford is mature enough in its community and intercultural relations to be able to face hard questions and to have honest conversations about the challenges as well as the opportunities afforded by our cultural interactions (or lack of them). These challenges are clear, but are best addressed by people who live in Bradford and have a purchase on what happens here. We are big enough to avoid illusions and work towards better integration.
“Bradford is rich in diversity – and more colourful than any other city in England. We need to hold firm to our common heritage as we shape what it will mean to be ‘English’ for our grandchildren. The EDL has no place here because it has nothing to bring to the conversation.”
Bradford Council for Mosques Secretary Zulfi Karim said: “EDL’s coming to Bradford is viewed with trepidation by all sections of the community.
“Some would say that this is a cost of a mature democracy which rightfully places a high premium on freedom of expression. However, we need to balance this against the protection of those who frequently and repeatedly have to shoulder the venom of hatred.
“The cost to the city is enormous in terms of image, business loss, cost of policing and more importantly the scars to the community relations.
“We at Council for Mosques are working closely with Bradford Council, West Yorkshire Police and other partners in the community to bring to the fore the traditional Bradfordian resilience. We are encouraged by the sense of togetherness, purpose, diligence and resolve of all to rise above and reject the EDL’s divisive and grotesque rhetoric.
“Council for Mosques Bradford in partnership with other Faith communities is leading from the front to raise awareness and to build resilience against all forms of extremism and form of hate amongst our communities."