The Exeter branch of the English Defence League were humiliated in Exeter today. They had claimed that over 100 people were attending their “Ban the Burka” protest – in the event there were only 15 of them.
In contrast to the EDL’s shambles of a protest there was a well organised and well attended Celebration of Diversity which had a very positive atmosphere. Organisers estimate that a total of 300 people attended the Celebration over the course of three hours, with over 200 people being on the event at it’s height.
The Celebration of Diversity brought together people from all different beliefs and backgrounds – there were Christian Ministers, people from the Mosque and also from the Synagogue. There was a message of support from the Lord Mayor Marcel Choules. Members of Exeter Labour Party, the Green Party and the Liberal Democrats attended. The Celebration was supported by the Devon branch of the National Union of Teachers and by the Exeter Anti Cuts Alliance. There was a "Feminists against the Burqua Ban" banner along with many others.
Children’s activities were organised by the Woodcraft Folk – a poster where children drew Flags of the World was very popular, along with making friendship bracelets and a “We Love Exeter” poster.
Speakers addressed the event from Unite Against Fascism, the Woodcraft Folk and the Exeter Anti Cuts Alliance. A student from Egypt spoke about the victory of the Egyptian people and about how Muslim and Christian protesters had stood side by side in Tahrir Square.
The well organised, peaceful and uplifting Celebration of Diversity was very different from the EDL’s protest. The EDL failed to properly liase with the police and 10 of them turned up unannounced at the start of our event seeking a confrontation. They seemed to be taken aback by the number of people who had turned out to oppose them. They were led away by police and then stood for an hour in the High Street where they were barracked by members of the general public before retreating to a pub.
Mike Gurney from Exeter Unite Against Fascism says
“Today was a great day for Exeter, for anti-racism and for all those who oppose prejudice. The EDL were humiliated – they claimed on their Facebook page that over 100 would attend their event – they only managed 15. It was great to see Christians, Jews and Muslims standing together side by side to oppose the EDL. The EDL’s claims that Muslims are going to impose Sharia Law on Britiain is laughable – Muslims make up only 2.7% of the population. Today the people of Exeter showed that the EDL’s politics of hate are not welcome here and will be challenged whenever it arises.”
NB There is a video of Exeter EDL on YouTube.
Cheers to Mike for sending in the report.