Mancunians urged to ‘simply ignore’ EDL protest

Published: 06 March 2015

Faith, community and civic leaders are meeting in Manchester Cathedral today to call on the people of Greater Manchester to ignore the English Defence League when they return to Manchester city centre this weekend.

The vigil, this afternoon at 3.30pm, is a show of unity against the EDL and a celebration of the region’s inclusion and diversity.

The event is in support of a statement released today, which urges Mancunians to do as they have done before and turn their backs on the EDL as they attempt to spread their message of hatred and division.

Canon Philip Barratt, Sub Dean, Manchester Cathedral spoke of the cathedral Community’s commitment to hosting the Vigil; he said: “ An enormous part of our Charism as a cathedral, is to reflect, encourage and support the most exciting diversity of faith, culture and experience which is around us here in Manchester. To share in welcoming faith leaders and representatives from all areas of city life is a great honour. We are proud to host the Challenging Hate Forum here and see this shared time of vigil as a continuation of that valuable work in our City”

Greater Manchester’s Police and Crime Commissioner Tony Lloyd, the Bishop of Manchester, Rt Revd Dr David Walker, Manchester Central MP Lucy Powell, and Manchester City Council Leader Sir Richard Leese among the 34 leading figures who have signed the letter encouraging local people to join them in this show of solidarity.

The letter reads:

We are proud of the tradition of protest that we have here in our great city. From the anti-slavery movement, to the Suffragettes, to pro-democracy demonstrations, to rallies against war and austerity, Manchester has always been a place where people can make their voice heard.

We’re also proud of our tradition of inclusion and diversity. No matter who you are, you can be yourself in Manchester.

We stand united in our affirmation of the value of every human being, and against anything that would seek to divide our communities.

This weekend sees the English Defence League return to Manchester city centre. They have little support in this city, as each time they have come they have had to bus in their supporters from elsewhere.

Their values of hatred and division fly in the face of the Mancunian vision of acceptance and peace. So how do we respond to their arrival in our city?

We recommend that Mancunians do what they have done before – ignore them. The most powerful thing we can do is not to shout back at these people, but simply turn our backs. We do not want to give credit to their campaign.

We are confident the police and city council have a clear plan in place to minimise disruption and will not tolerate any lawbreaking. Our city centre is open for business as usual and, like every weekend, we urge everyone to come here and enjoy the great things that Manchester has to offer.

The full list of signatories to the statement are:

Tony Lloyd, Police and Crime Commissioner
Rt Revd Dr David Walker, Bishop of Manchester, Church of England
Rt Hon Baroness Hughes of Stretford
Councillor Sue Cooley, Lord Mayor of Manchester
Lucy Powell, MP, Manchester Central
Sir Richard Leese, Leader, Manchester City Council
Councillor Mohammed Afzal Khan C.B.E., M.E.P.
Rt Revd Chris Edmondson, Bishop of Bolton, Church of England
Rt Revd Mark Davies, Bishop of Middleton, Church of England
Revd Keith Davies, Chair, Manchester and Stockport District, Methodist Church
Revd Richard Church, Moderator, North West Synod, United Reformed Church
Archbishop Dr Doyé Teido Agama, Presiding Prelate and Executive Director, Apostolic Pastoral Congress, and Senior Pastor, Christian Way of Life Churches
Revd Tim Presswood, Transitional Regional Minister, North Western Baptist Association
Mr Suresh Mehta, Secretary, Board of Trustees, Jain Samaj Manchester
Rabbi Jonathan Guttentag, Whitefield Synagogue (Orthodox Judaism)
Rabbi Reuven Silverman, Manchester Reform Congregation (Reform Judaism)
Mr Louis Rapaport, co-chair of the Hindu-Jewish Association, Manchester
Dr Girdhari Bhan, Hindu community representative, and co-chair of the Hindu-Jewish Association, Manchester
Imam Rashid Musa, Imam of Salford
Ms Assia Shah, Chaplaincy Teams, University of Manchester, and Pennine Acute Hospitals NHS Trust
Mr Jagtar Singh Ajimal, Sikh Community
Mr V.J. Gautam, Hindu Community
Revd Canon Philip Barratt, Sub-Dean, Manchester Cathedral
Mr David Arnold, co-chair of the Council of Christians and Jews, Manchester Branch
Revd Canon Steve Williams, co-chair of the Council of Christians and Jews, Manchester Branch
Ms Heather Fletcher, co-chair of the Muslim Jewish Forum of Greater Manchester
Mr Mohammed Amin, co-chair of the Muslim Jewish Forum of Greater Manchester
Revd Bob Day, chair of Faith Network 4 Manchester
Mr Jonny Wineberg, vice-chair of Faith Network 4 Manchester
Paul Martin OBE, Chief Executive, The Lesbian and Gay Foundation
Atiha Chaudry JP DL, Lead, Manchester BME Network
Councillor Pat Karney, city centre spokesperson Manchester City Council
Councillor Sue Murphy, Deputy Leader, Manchester City Council
Councillor Bernard Priest, Deputy Leader, Manchester City Council
Jim Battle, Deputy Police and Crime Commissioner
Greater Manchester Fire and Rescue Service

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