‘Proud, multicultural’ Manchester to unite against far-right EDL founder book launch

The brother of Martyn Hett, one of the 22 people killed in the Manchester Arena attack, is part of a group of politicians, trade unionists and anti-fascists opposing a far-right book launch in Manchester today.

Unite Against Fascism (UAF) are holding a rally in opposition to English Defence League (EDL) founder Tommy Robinson’s book launch and will assemble outside Manchester Central Library in St Peter’s Square at 5.00pm.

Robinson – real name Stephen Yaxley-Lennon – has a history of organising fascist groups, and set up the EDL in 2009.  In June this year, eight people were arrested after a protest in Manchester, led by Robinson, clashed with anti-protesters.

Dan Hett, brother of Martyn, said: “’I am wholly in support of standing up against Tommy Robinson’s ‘book launch’ in my home city of Manchester. There is only one reason he chose this city, and that is the attacks we suffered so recently.

“Tommy has cynically booked his event […] using the extremist attack to further his own fascist agenda, and line his own pockets.

“Manchester is a vibrant, creative, multicultural city that is still reeling from the attack on its people, and we stand together to tell Tommy and his followers that they are not welcome here.”

The event in Manchester, which has already changed venue a number of times, takes place just a day after Robinson was forced to cancel a similar event in Tyneside as the venue there decided against holding it.

UAF’s Unity Statement, which has been signed by MPs, trade unionists and councillors from across Greater Manchester, said: “Greater Manchester is a proud, multicultural area which is made up of people of all races and religions and we will not be divided.

“Islam is not to blame for terrorism.  We oppose anti-Semitism, Islamophobia and all forms of racism.”

Paul Jenkins, of UAF, said: “The majority of people in Greater Manchester oppose racism, and stand united against the racism and violence that Tommy Robinson seeks to whip up. 

“Robinson is the enemy of freedom of speech.  We are the defenders of free speech and oppose attempts by a fascist to use it in order to destroy free speech for everyone else.”

Kate Green, MP for Stretford and Urmston, said: “Mr Robinson’s political opinions are vicious, divisive and dangerous, and he is not welcome in our diverse, multicultural and friendly communities here in Greater Manchester. 

“I abhor all forms of discrimination, including anti-Semitism, Islamophobia, and all forms of racism, and I warmly support Unite Against Fascism in their campaign against this event.”

Image courtesy of Unite Against Fascism via Twitter, with thanks.

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