Around 150 people crowded into a meeting called to organise for the ‘We are Bradford’ unity event on Saturday 28 August.
Peaceful and united
The ‘We are Bradford’ event will be a peaceful, united and multicultural response to plans by the racist English Defence League to bring their anti-Muslim hatred to Bradford.
Last night’s meeting brought together a broad mix of local people, including black, white and Asian people, Muslims and members of other faith groups, trade unionists and young people. The mood of the meeting was positive but serious, with participants resolved not to abandon their city to the EDL. The meeting heard confirmation from the police that a static demonstration by the EDL would not be banned.
EDL not welcome
Bradford East MP David Ward told the meeting that he wanted to attend the ‘We are Bradford’ celebration to show that the EDL was not welcome in the city.
UAF joint secretary Weyman Bennett said a peaceful, multicultural event in Bradford was essential. The experience of Stoke and Luton has shown that where the EDL is unopposed its supporters are more likely to go on the rampage. Weyman poined out that support for the ‘We are Bradford’ event is coming from across the country, with the trade unions PCS, CWU, UCU and TSSA already giving their backing.
The Rev Chris Howson, City Mission priest and one of the ‘We Are Bradford’ organisers, called for a peaceful response to the EDL to show the world that the EDL only wanted to use racism to divide the city. ‘We are Bradford’ unites all those who stand for peace and unity, he argued.
The meeting also heard Kanja Sesay, Black students’ officer for the National Union of Students speak about the importance of providing a safe focus for young people to show their opposition to the racism of the EDL.
Bradford trade unionists from the PCS civil servants’ union and the NUT teachers’ union spoke from the floor about how they were building the event.
Local activist Ashiq Hussain, who chaired the meeting, urged everyone to play their part in building a peaceful, united response to the EDL, to sign the campaign statement and volunteer as stewards for the event.
Thousands of leaflets were distributed to be handed out across the city.