Political, faith and business leaders are calling on Mancunians to turn their backs on the English Defence League as they protest in Manchester city centre this weekend.
The 17 leading figures have signed a letter, published in the Manchester Evening News today (Friday 1 March), encouraging local people to join them in a powerful show of solidarity by ignoring the far-right protesters.
Greater Manchester’s Police and Crime Commissioner Tony Lloyd, leader of Manchester City Council Sir Richard Leese, Manchester Central MP Lucy Powell, the Bishop of Middleton the Right Reverend Mark Davis and other faith leaders are among those who have signed the powerful letter.
Tony said: “Of course we recognise the right to a peaceful process, this at the heart of our democracy. Unfortunately, this means that we have to put up with people like the EDL who think they can come here and spew hatred and racism. They can come – but they are not welcome here.
“We are proud of our diversity and proud of our welcoming spirit but we will not welcome the EDL and their abhorrent messages. The most powerful message we can send the EDL is to simply ignore them, that’s the last thing they would want, and is why we are calling on all Mancunians to do the same. Come to Manchester as usual on Saturday. Shop, eat, drink – but ignore the small group of people who have nothing to do with our great city and what it stands for.”