Lincoln EDL anti-Islam protest planned for July

A Lincolnshire English Defence League group is planning an anti-Islam demonstration in Lincoln this summer, and a local campaign group has spoken out condemning the move.

The EDL Lincolnshire Division has publicised via social media that a demonstration will take place in the city on July 25 from 1pm.

Administrators of the ‘Lincolnshire Against Islam’ event page wrote: “Historic Lincolnshire says no to Islam and its barbaric ways, with the mosque now being built in Lincoln, and to make the people of Lincolnshire aware of what is coming our way.”

EDL also announced plans for other similar protest in Halifax in May, in Rotherham in June and also in Sheffield in July.

A campaign group set up to oppose racism in Lincoln has condemned plans for the protest.

The group previously hosted counter-demos when activists against proposals for a mosque in Lincoln protested in the city centre.

Supporters at the anti-mosque protest. Photo: Steve Smailes for The Lincolnite

Supporters at the anti-mosque protest. Photo: Steve Smailes for The Lincolnite

The protests in June 2013 and January 2014 saw hundreds march through the city, with anti-Islam speeches and chants met with counter-chants and banners.

Construction has now begun on the mosque site off Boultham Park Road.

Mosque-Construction-Ceremony-15-04-2015-SS-14

A ceremony marked the breaking of the ground on site. Photo: Steve Smailes for The Lincolnite

Lincoln Against Racism and Fascism was set up in 2006 to oppose the BNP and relaunched in June 2013 following a counter-demonstration in Lincoln against the far-right East Anglian Patriots group.

Nick Parker, spokesperson for the group, said: “We condemn the plans by the EDL to organise a ‘Lincolnshire Against Islam’ protest, the only purpose of which will be to divide our community and distract from the issues that really matter, like protecting the jobs, services and living standards of ordinary people in Lincoln.

“The EDL is trying to whip up tension under the pretext that a mosque will be built in Lincoln. We believe that the right to worship freely is a basic democratic right.

“You don’t have to follow Islam or any religion to seek to defend that right. However, the underlying reason for the protest by the EDL is to try to foster division in our community.

Photo: Steve Smailes for The Lincolnite

Anti-racism protestors in Lincoln. Photo: Steve Smailes for The Lincolnite

“Local people proudly stood up against the far-right threat in June 2013 and again in January 2014.

“We note that they’ve decided that marching under the ‘East Anglian Patriots’ name might have been a bit counter-productive when we’re not in East Anglia. But make no mistake, whether they call themselves the EAP, EDL, or any other front, they represent the same far-right ideas that serve to intimidate and divide our community and spread racist hatred.

“Lincoln Against Racism and Fascism will democratically decide in the coming weeks how we respond to the announcement of this latest attempt by the far-right to sow the seeds of racism in our community. But what we can say for sure is that the EDL offers no solutions for working-class people.”

Superintendent Maria Staniland, who has the operational lead for policing in Lincoln said: “We are aware of the proposed protest planned for July 25 in Lincoln.

“We are talking to the organisers and will be involved in planning any necessary police arrangements for the day”.

Councillor Rosanne Kirk, Portfolio Holder for Social Inclusion and Community Cohesion at City of Lincoln Council, added: “We live in a society where people should be free to practice their religion and we know people in Lincoln are tolerant and welcoming of different cultures.

“While people have the right to peaceful protest, the council will work closely with the police and partners to ensure that appropriate resources are available to minimise risk and the impact of any protest on residents, businesses, shoppers and visitors to the city.”

The English Defence League Lincolnshire Division has also been contacted by The Lincolnite, but have so far not responded.