A far-right group’s planned gathering outside a church will not disturb a marathon bible event, organisers vowed today.
The English Defence League (EDL) is planning to meet opposite Preston Minster, on Church Street, Preston, and walk to the Flag Market on Saturday November 27. While up to 1,000 members of the EDL assemble close to the church, a four-day bible reading event will be ongoing inside the church. Unite Against Fascism (UAF) has also applied to hold a similar event on the same day, in opposition to the EDL’s presence.
Throughout this week Fr Timothy Lipscomb, vicar of Preston, will be attending meetings to ensure everything possible is done to prevent any disruption. He said: “It won’t affect it because we won’t let them in to do anything to disturb it. There will be lots of people around, that’s a good thing because it will be well staffed. I will not condone people using religion for something which is absolutely not.”
Fr Lipscomb said he is confident the group’s message will largely fall on deaf ears in the city but fears ‘vulnerable people’ could be taken in. He said: “It undermines the confidence in the city and it is frightening for people who are vulnerable or are easily led. Those who are going through a bad time in life are more vulnerable to people who will bully them and frighten them. They are very clever in the way they do it.”
Preston Coun Salim Desai, who represents the Town Centre ward, said it will be the event inside the church which best represents the city. He said: “It is two extremes. On the one end, they are doing this march and on the other they are doing an all-night bible reading over the weekend. They will have different religions there taking part in readings from the New Testament. It is a multi-cultural event, it shows how the community here has come together, how integrated we are and how many dialogues there are. These people (EDL) are visitors who do not know what goes on in Preston. These people are so isolated and they have got no support or roots in Preston.”
Preston Council was due to meet yesterday evening to discuss the rally. A spokesman for the English Defence League was unavailable for comment.
Lancashire Evening Post
Thanks to NewsHound for the heads-up