While the EDL rally in Piccadilly Gardens on Saturday had only 30 attendees, the anti-fascist counter protest organised in response had an estimated 100.
The rally, organised by Unite Against Fascism and Stand Up to Racism, aimed to spread a message of unity and diversity, with attendees chanting: “There’s more of us than you, we’re black, white, Asian and we’re Jew.”
Pascal, a representative for Amnesty International and TEFL teacher, was critical of the EDL.
He outlined that he was there to promote a society of tolerance and to stand in solidarity with lots of people from the community, against hate and fascism.
“What I stand for is respect, dignity, justice and equality, and what the EDL stands for is the complete opposite, they stand for all the values that I am totally opposed to.
“I’m here in solidarity with people who are marginalised and persecuted because of their ethnicity, their faith, their sexual orientation, their gender identity, their disability.
“The views that they have are incoherent, they make no sense, they’re not based on any kind of evidence.
“A strong, just, peaceful society is built on evidence, is built on diversity, it’s built on unity, it’s built on respect, dignity.
“I think that’s why everyone is doing here today so they are here as allies, in solidarity to people who are discriminated against and persecuted.”
UNITY AND DIVERSITY: Unite Against Fascism and Stand Up to Racism activists chanted “There’s more of us than you, we’re black, white, Asian and we’re Jew.”
The event was spoken at by Manchester councillors Julie Reid, Pat Karney and Rabnawwaz Akbar, as well as Salford councillor Heather Fletcher.
Ms Fletcher, who is also a co-founder of the Muslim Jewish Forum of Greater Manchester, said that she believed in joining social groups to make links and bridge the divide between groups.
“We want to promote social and cultural ties between Muslim and Jewish communities.
“You learn about differences and when you learn from each other you begin to…tolerate, and then it’s more than tolerate you become good friends.
Ms Fletcher indicated that she thought that the current political climate emboldened people to air racist views and encouraged the EDL.
“I think they’re disgraceful.
“I really do but I hope they go the same way as the BNP, and before that I remember the NF, the National Front, so the National Front disappeared the BNP disappeared.
“Let’s hope the EDL do sooner rather than later.”
WHERE ARE YOU? Anti-fascist protestors number 100+ as they wait for the meagre EDL showing just into double figures
However, music student Josh told MM that the usual centre ground that’s been occupied for most of the 20th century is slowly further left and slowly further right.
“As much as I’d like to tell you that they’re going to go away for ever and it’s going to be the end of the EDL and this will be the end of fascism as a whole, I can’t lie and say that.
“I think that all good people in the world and all right-minded people in the world have to come together and come against people like these.”
The rally was backed by trade unions and politicians and received messages of support from Kate Green MP, Julie Ward MEP, and brother of one of the Manchester bombing victims and co-founder of Survivors Against Terror, Dan Hett.