Anti-fascist protesters have called for a peaceful multi-cultural rally on the day the extreme right English Defence League descends on Rotherham.
The EDL has urged its followers to attend a demonstration in the town next Saturday after revelations about the sexual exploitation of young girls. Rotherham Unite Against Fascism has urged for people to attend a planned counter-rally in All Saints’ Square as a show of strength against the EDL.
Pat Keenan, president of Rotherham Trades Council, said: “The overwhelming majority of people reject the EDL’s attempt to use racism to divide our society. Their attempts to spread racist myths about sexual exploitation must be exposed and challenged. They seek to blame one community for society’s problems. The EDL does nothing to protect the victims of sexual violence. Sexual predators and paedophiles exist in all communities, as do their victims.”
He added: “Each time the EDL assemble, minorities and trades unionists are subjected to threats and racial and religious abuse. Recently the EDL were prevented from marching through Walthamstow in London due to a fantastic show of unity from the local community. It is essential that we show the same level of unity here. There’s no place for Nazis, racists or their allies in Rotherham’s multiracial, multicultural and multi-faith community.”
A public meeting to discuss the issue will be held on Monday at 7pm at the Unity Centre. Speakers are expected to include Rotherham MP Denis MacShane, Unite Against Fascism’s Weyman Bennett, faith leaders and other prominent figures.