A packed public meeting took place on Sunday at a main Gurdwara in the heart of Leicester’s Sikh community. 150 people met to discuss the community’s response to the English Defence League’s march in Leicester on Saturday October the 9th.
The meeting was called by the Indian Workers Association GB – Leicestershire Branch.
The speakers included a representative from Leicester Police, local councillors, Sital Singh Gill (General Secretary of IWA), Gurjit Dosanjh (Leicester Unite Against Fascism), as well as leading members of the Sikh community.
Sital from the IWA reminded the meeting “The Sikh community has a proud tradition of opposing racism and fascism wherever it raises its head. He stated
“The EDL say they are against the ‘Muslim extremists’, but we know first they will come for the Muslims, then the Sikhs, then the Hindus.”
“The Indian community fought for Britain against the Nazis in the second world war – what right have the EDL to say this isn’t our country. The community cohesion we have has been hard fought for and we are not going to lose it today”
Sital went on to make it clear that the Sikh man who was named as an EDL organiser, did not represent Sikh beliefs or traditions, was a disgrace and has been disowned by the real Sikh community.
Gurjit from Leicester UAF spoke of her experience as a Sikh woman opposing the Nazis, she called on the community, men and women, young and old to join the peaceful protest in the city centre to keep Leicester Nazi-free. She explained that it was crucial that we had men and women stewards from different communities to keep the protest safe and reflect the ‘real’ Leicester. That we had to join together to tell the EDL that they were not welcome in our city.
The police representative repeated that they preferred people to stay away – and asked the meeting “Does the demonstration have to be on the same day?” – the meeting shouted “YES”.
Speakers at the meeting reiterated that if the EDL came to Leicester and they saw no opposition they would believe they represented the views of the city. That a ‘stay away’ strategy was a big mistake for Leicester.
Another leading woman member of the community responded to calls to stay away by stating to the meeting that
“in Sikhism men and women are equal, and this means on the demo, wherever there was a Sikh man there would be a Sikh woman. That Sikh women would not be staying at home”.
Many attending the meeting discussed their experience of racism in the past and present and confirmed the meetings sentiment that ignoring the EDL would not make them go away. It would give them more confidence to carry out racist attacks.
Sital from the IWA went on to remind the meeting –
“The EDL are coming to OUR city to protest, to say that we don’t belong. We have the equal right to protest against their racist lies.”
Sital ended the meeting by announcing that the Gurdwaras committee had decided to unanimously support the UAF protest, in the city centre against the EDL on Saturday 9th of October.
Over 20 people at the meeting agreed to steward the anti-fascist demonstration.