CAIRO – An anti-Islam march by far-rightists in the British city of Cambridge is uniting Muslim and non-Muslim residents against racism and intolerance.
"I feel very strongly about the need to make it clear that Cambridge stands together against fascism and racism,” Julian Huppert, Lib Dem MP for Cambridge, told Cambridge News on Saturday, February 23."This is the second year running that the EDL has targeted our city and, while I recognize their right to protest, I want to make it very clear that they are not welcome here."
Muslims and Muslims are planning to march in the city on Saturday against a planned protest by the far-right English Defence League.
More than 1,000 people have said on the Facebook event page they will be attending the protest, organized by the Cambridge Unite Against Fascism (CUAF).
Alongside the CUAF procession, the Muslim Council of Cambridge also organized a march for peace in the city.
Announcing the event, flyers have been sent out to the council urging all Muslims to take part in the march.
"It will boost our children’s confidence and they will love Cambridge more than before,” the leaflet says.
Marchers will meet at Petersfield at noon and pass the static EDL protest between 2pm and 4pm at Christ’s Pieces, twice.
Failing to attend the march, councilor Bick wished “no less success” to the counter-demonstration.
The EDL, a far-right group that emerged in 2009, has held numerous protests against what it calls “Islamic extremism” in Britain.
Far-right groups like the EDL and the British National Party (BNP) are playing the card of immigration to stoke sentiment against Muslims and immigrants.
In November 2010, British police warned that the anti-Muslim demonstration by the EDL fuel extremism and harm social cohesion in Britain.
Last September, the EDL was humiliated in Walthamstow district in northeast London when anti-fascists comprehensively routed it as it tried to stage a "national" demonstration.
Despite supporting the anti-EDL rally, some Britons are worried that the protest would play into the hands of rightists.
"The debate I have in my mind on questions of counter-demonstrations is the degree to which you don't make the people you are demonstrating against feel much more important than they deserve to feel,” said Councilor Tim Bick, Lib Dem leader of Cambridge City Council.
"In a city like this, where they have almost no support, it seemed to be proven the last time they came here.
"They got a lot more airtime because of the numbers that came out against them."
But Richard Rose, coordinator of CUAF, disagrees.
"[It] is important to show that anti-racists in Cambridge are the vast majority and that the racists are just a small minority bused in from outside,” he told Varsity website.
"It looks like we will massively outnumber them, but it pays never to be complacent and to never let the fascists go unchallenged however ridiculous they may appear – people in Germany initially thought Hitler was ridiculous.
"This is especially important after [Marianne] Le Pen’s visit: her brand of racism has gone largely unchallenged in France and has resulted in her electoral success. It is important we don’t let them make capital from her visit.”
Daniel Zeichner, Cambridge's Labour parliamentary candidate, agrees.
"They now don’t stand for election because they know they have no support," he said.
"Instead they turn up in peaceful, tolerant cities like ours to make trouble and to try and instill fear. And to a limited extent, they succeed."
British Muslims, estimated at nearly 2.5 million, have been in the eye of storm since the 7/7 2005 attacks.
A Financial Times opinion poll showed that Britain is the most suspicious nation about Muslims.
A poll of the Evening Standard found that a sizable section of London residents harbor negative opinions about Muslims.The anti-Muslim tide has also been on the rise across Europe, with several countries are restricting the freedom of Muslims to wearing face-veil and building mosques.
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