Updated: Thursday, 9th April 2020 @ 1:24pm

Shops prepared as EDL get ready to descend on Rochdale for rally

Shops prepared as EDL get ready to descend on Rochdale for rally

By Carrie Smith

Rochdale shop owners are preparing ahead of tomorrow’s English Defence League march.

The far-right movement will descend on the town at 1.30pm to demonstrate against what they see as an expansion of Muslim extremism.

Rochdale MP Simon Danczuk urged the town to continue as usual.

He said: “Tomorrow’s ‘protest’ is nothing more than an attempt to stir up racial tensions and incite violence.

“The police are fully prepared to deal with this and the protest will be outside of the town centre, which will be open for business as usual.

“I would urge everyone to continue to support local shops and businesses.”

John Alexander, manager of J & D Alexander Jewellers, said: “I know that one or two shops are not going to be open, but we shall be. 

“Obviously as a jeweller we will be taking care.”

Manager of CJ’s Baby Boutique, Carol Johnson, said: “We are planning on staying open but we will play it by ear.  If it looks iffy they I will put the shutters down.”

Smokin Gadets’ manager, Afis Anwar, also plans to stay open: “This is the first I’ve heard of it.  It shouldn’t be a problem as there’ll be a fair share of police around.  I can’t see anything major happening.”

Local group Rochdale Unity, who will be holding a counter protest at the same time, accused EDL of exploiting the recent case of sexual exploitation of young women in Heywood, which saw nine Asian men handed prison sentences.

Greater Manchester Police said they are working with the event organisers and the local community.

Chief Superintendent John O'Hare said: "I understand there may be concerns in the community about this event, but I would like to reassure people that while we will facilitate a peaceful demonstration, we will not tolerate any form of disorder, and we are on hand to address any concerns residents may have." 

EDL splinter group Casuals United have issued a ‘fatwa’ against any media who attend tomorrow’s event without having been invited by EDL leaders, saying they will be treated as ‘hostile’.

This is not the first time EDL, who identify themselves as a human rights organisation, have taken to the streets of Rochdale.

In January, their members protested at a meat counter in a Rochdale Asda, apparently against the sale of halal products.