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Tuesday, 10 August 2010

Bradford delegation calls for ban on English Defence League march

Politicians, religious leaders and campaigners travel to London to ask home secretary to stop 'provocative' demonstration
A delegation of politicians, religious leaders and campaigners from Bradford will arrive in London tomorrow to ask the home secretary to ban a planned demonstration in the Yorkshire city by the far-right English Defence League (EDL).

The delegation, which includes the Bradford West MP, Marsha Singh, says the proposed demonstration is an attempt to provoke trouble in a city still recovering from the riots in 2001 that followed an attempted march by the National Front.

"The EDL is a racist, anti-Muslim organisation that is coming to Bradford with the sole intention of whipping up tensions and trying to provoke a riot," said Singh. "Unfortunately, we know only too well what this type of terror can bring and Bradford is still recovering from the disturbances of 2001."

The EDL formed in Luton last year and has become the most significant far-right street movement in the UK since the National Front in the 1970s. It claims to be a peaceful, non-racist organisation opposed only to "militant Islam". But many of its demonstrations have ended in confrontations with the police after some supporters became involved in violence as well as racist and Islamophobic chanting.

The group has held demonstrations across the country but its plan to target Bradford over the August bank holiday weekend is its most provocative yet, with between 5,000 and 10,000 EDL supporters expected to descend on the city.

Tomorrow's delegation will present a petition signed by more than 10,000 Bradford residents to Home Office officials calling on the police and government to ban the demonstration.

"This is not some bureaucratic or passive appeal to the authorities, but real people demanding that those who are supposed to serve and protect us actually do just that," said Singh. "We are calling on the home secretary and West Yorkshire police to listen to the will of the people of Bradford."

West Yorkshire police are expected to make a decision on whether they think the EDL demonstration should go ahead in the next week. It will then be down to the home secretary, Theresa May, to decide whether to ban the march.

Singh added: "The Conservative government was elected on a policy of localism, of giving local people a greater say in the running of their community. Now is the time to see if they mean it."

The Guardian