EDL protest

EDL protesters condemned for displaying white supremacist imagery during protest

  • English Defence League hold small 'National Protest' in Manchester
  • Supporters seen to display Neo Nazi and white supremasist icons
  • EDL protest condemned by Labour MP Afzal Khan
  • Two arrests made by police.

Manchester saw a large police presence this weekend as the English Defence League (EDL) held a ‘national protest’ in Piccadilly Gardens.

EDL protest
Police at the protest in Picadilly Gardens

The 30-40 strong contingent of EDL supporters were met by roughly 300 counter protesters from Stand Up to Racism and United against Fascism. Widely covered tweets mocked the small size of the “national protest”. 

The Northern Quota spoke to the northwest regional organiser for the EDL, Martin Culpher about their march.  

Martin Culpher EDL
Martin Culpher – Northwest regional organiser for the EDL

He said: “Our protest today is about the Didsbury Mosque, the Imam called for jihad then 10 days later the man who carried out the attack at the Manchester Arena bought his ticket for the Manchester arena.”

This claim, reported in the BBC earlier this year was refuted by the trustees of Didsbury Mosque saying to the BBC: “We do not tolerate or instigate any form of preaching that breaches both Islamic principles and the laws of England and Wales.”

When asked about claims the EDL were islamophobic and racist, Culpher went on to say: “No, we are against extreme Islam, we are against the ideology. We are not against the Muslims.”

Paul Jenkins
Paul Jenkins – Regional lead for stand up to racism

This is disputed by Paul Jenkins the regional lead for Stand up to Racism. “They held the protest against the mosque to whip up racism against Muslims and blame them for terrorism.”

Terrorism has no religion, We firmly reject their views

In addition to this investigations carried out by the Northern Quota have identified banners and clothing displaying neo nazi and white suprematist imagery being displayed by EDL supporters. 

EDL banner
White supremacist banner held by those in the EDL section.

The white cross seen above is a renowned icon among white supremacists.  Another protester was seen wearing ’88’ on his hoody which is often used by neo-nazis as a numerical code for ‘Heil Hitler’. 

Manchester Member of Parliament Afzal Khan said: 

“It is incredibly alarming to see far right groups like the EDL marching through Manchester and we cannot underestimate the growing confidence of the far-right to openly hold marches in towns and cities across the UK.

“In the UK and Europe we are facing a serious, growing challenge from the racist far right, encouraged by people like Tommy Robinson. As a society we must work together to oppose these groups, ensuring that our values of multi-culturalism and anti-racism and celebrating diversity, prevail.

“The small number of EDL marchers paled in comparison with the counter-protest of over 300 people and I am proud that Manchester will not be divided by those who spread hatred. We will always stand up to far-right fascists and racists whenever they rear their ugly heads.”

The Northern Quota appoached members of the public for their views on this. Sam Harrison – who lives in Manchetser condemed such open displays of racist imagery. He said: ” They may deny being racist but the proof is in their actions and who they associate with.”

Dan Hett took to Twitter to strongly criticise the EDL protest stating they are playing into the hands of terrorists by perpetuating hate.

Dan lost his brother Martyn in the 2017 terrorist and has been a strong opponent of EDL activities within the city.

In an earlier statement Greater Manchester Police said: “In the lead up to this event, we worked closely with the organisers and our partners at Transport for Greater Manchester, Manchester City Council and British Transport Police to reduce impact on the public and minimise the risk of disorder. 

“I am happy to say that the overwhelming majority of people who exercised their democratic right to protest have done so peacefully and the demonstration has passed with little disruption. 

“There have been two arrests, which is not uncommon for an event of this size.”

[Update 29/10/18: Greater Manchester Police responded to a request for comment stating that no complaints had been recieved about the displaying of Neo Nazi / White Supremacist imagery and the icons seen were not linked to prescribed or banned groups such as the National Front.]