Standing up against hate

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On the morning of Sunday, June 2, word circulated in the Lancaster area that a group representing the EDL and BNP were intending to march through the city.

As a result I joined a group of fellow citizens at the Cenotaph to make it clear that this tiny minority would not give the good people of Lancaster a bad name and spread their hate-filled message unchallenged.

I am proud to report that the anti-racist campaigners gathered from all aspects of Lancaster and Morecambe’s vibrant multi-cultural communities outnumbered the EDL/BNP marchers by approximately five to one.

The marchers were able to lay their flowers at the Cenotaph without opposition and a minute’s silence in memory of Lee Rigby was impeccably observed by all sides.

Unfortunately the marchers declined to stay for a minute’s silence in memory of Mohammed Saleem murdered recently by racists in Birmingham.

Under the guidance of Lancaster Police who did an excellent job to prevent clashes on the day we then walked across Lancaster to the Market Square where it was clear from the responses of passers-by and drivers on the streets we walked, that there was considerable support not for the anti-Islamic extremists but for the peaceful tolerant community spirit of Lancaster and I believe the whole of the UK.

The BNP/EDL and their ilk have a powerful publicity machine, and portions of the press and media contribute to their spread of fear and misinformation nationally so I believe that it is vital to report that in Lancaster, as in so many other parts of the country, the decent, ordinary people do not support their cause.

We are not fooled by their lies, or cowed by their intimidation because we know that tolerance, openness, friendliness, opposing bigotry and supporting the oppressed are things that make Britain great, not hate and violence and abuse.

Kevin McVeigh