Leading figures across Greater Manchester have united to call on voters to shun the BNP
North West MEP Arlene McCarthy was joined by Minister for Europe Caroline Flint to urge people to vote in June 4 European Elections this morning. They met local residents at the Inspire Sister’s base on Hamilton Road in Longsight.
Ms McCarthy told the audience: "I am proud to represent a strong multicultural city whose strength comes from its local diverse community. To keep this diversity going we must make sure we get our voices heard and vote. People like Nick Griffin, of the British National Party (BNP) and former leader of the national front could win a platform in Brussels if we do not cast our vote. We have strived to get this far, let’s not let the BNP ruin what we as a community have achieved."
Representatives of all the city's biggest faith communities signed a pledge opposing the extreme right-wing party, which hopes to exploit public anger over the MPs' expenses scandal in European elections on June 4.
Greater Manchester Faith Communities, which is comprised of Christians of all denominations, Jews, Muslims and Sikhs, has said: "We express our concern at the racist history and policies of the British National Party. We say `No' to the BNP's view of the world. We say `Yes' to neighbourhoods where there is peace, justice and equality for everyone, whoever they are."
The Bishop of Manchester, the Rt Rev Nigel McCulloch, has branded the BNP as a party of `division, fear and hatred'. Earlier this year he called for all mainstream parties and people of all faiths to reject the BNP.
He said: "There are those who do not share our vision of Manchester and who will seek political success by preaching division and hatred. They will use racism and other prejudice to challenge the diversity, which strengthens our city. They will exploit the difficult times, which presently face our country, trying to turn one community against the other. They will use difference as a scapegoat because they have nothing else to offer in response to the issues we face. The BNP offers only division, fear and hatred."
The Oldham Interfaith Forum, are urging Oldhamers to vote on 4 June and not to withhold their votes in protest over the expense scandal.
Spokesperson Fazal Rahim said: "Oldham is a diverse community and we are proud of all our citizens. Our diversity is strength and we need to do all we can to maintain it. The far right BNP is campaigning to dismantle, disrupt and fragment our society. The Forum rejects the demonisation of any part of our community on the basis of faith or race, and refutes the claims of the BNP to speak for the Christian faith. Their message is a travesty of the Christian faith, an insult to other faiths and a danger to the harmony of our Borough."
Mohammed Shafiq from Rochdale based Muslim campaigning group, Ramadhan Foundation added: "The coming together of all faiths is hugely symbolic in sending the message that the UK can become a fascist’s free zone.
The racist, fascist and Nazi ideology of the BNP is the same as the Hitler loving hatred which Churchill defeated during the Second World War and I am certain that the BNP will be defeated in the same way by showing the British people the true colours of racism in the BNP."
Archbishops of Canterbury and York said it would be `tragic' if people abstained or voted BNP in the Euro polls and urged people to exercise `great vigilance' when deciding how to vote.
The Archbishop of York, the Most Rev John Sentamu, has condemned the party for language `which is beyond belief'.