CAIRO - Hundreds of British anti-fascists have staged a victory rally in Walthamstow district in northeast London to celebrate a Home Office ban on the far-right English Defence League (EDL) from leading their anti-Islam march.
"The EDL wanted to come to Walthamstow to intimidate Muslim and other communities including trade unionists, Hugh Lanning, Public and Commercial Services Union (PCS) deputy general secretary, told the Morning Star.
"They have been given a resounding no. Let's celebrate this victory together and united."
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The victory rally, organized by Unite Against Fascism (UAF) and We Are Waltham Forest groups, was planned after Home Office canceled a planned EDL march against Muslims in Waltham Forest amid fears they could erupt in violence.
Instead the 30-day ban across much of east London forced a handful of EDL supporters to hold a static demo outside Parliament.
Though the ministry banned the UAF from holding an opposing rally, the group chose to make a static demonstration titled victory rally'.
The jubilant protest was attended by politicians and union leaders who lined up to praise the EDL no-show as a victory for the community.
"The EDL are in a very weak and isolated position at the moment and all the signs suggest they will continue to get weaker," UAF joint national secretary Sabby Dhalu said.
"While their leaders are getting arrested support for our movement has grown considerably, including from many MPs."
Comedian and local resident Ava Vidal saw it as an "insult that the EDL targeted our area."
The EDL, a far-right group that emerged in 2009, has held numerous protests against what it calls Islamic extremism in Britain.
Far-right groups like the EDL and the British National Party (BNP) are playing the card of immigration to stoke sentiment against Muslims and immigrants.
In November 2010, British police warned that the anti-Muslim demonstration by the EDL fuel extremism and harm social cohesion in Britain.
The Walthamstow rally is not the first to be banned for the extremist EDL group.
Last September, the EDL was humiliated in Walthamstow when anti-fascists comprehensively routed it as it tried to stage a "national" demonstration.
The victory over EDL was praised by different British lawmakers who rejected its extremist, anti-Islam rhetoric.
We stand by our Muslim communities and reject an form of racism and xenophobia, Stella Creasy, MP, told Pakistan's The International News on Tuesday, October 30.
Dhalu, the joint national secretary of UAF, agreed.
The police restriction preventing the EDL from entering Walthamstow is a major victory for our movement, he said.
This is also a victory for the Muslim community which has successfully prevented an Islamophobic demonstration in an area with a large Muslim population that is celebrating Eid. The EDL is weak and isolated, while our movement grows stronger.
This victory must be celebrated.
British Muslims, estimated at nearly two million, have been in the eye of storm since the 7/7 attacks.
A Financial Times opinion poll showed that Britain is the most suspicious nation about Muslims.
A poll of the Evening Standard found that a sizable section of London residents harbor negative opinions about Muslims.
The anti-Muslim tide has also been on the rise across Europe, with several countries are restricting the freedom of Muslims to wearing face-veil and building mosques.
Reproduced with permission from OnIslam.net