September Song JP Cooper
1 March 2013, 09:59
Mancunians are being told to ignore the English Defence League, when up to 500 members of the group hold a demonstration on Saturday.
They'll be staging a protest in Albert Square from 1pm against what they say is 'militant Islam'.
But senior figures, like council leader Sir Richard Leese and city MP Lucy Powell, say the far right group are not welcome in Manchester.
A letter's been jointly signed by 17 people, including leaders of the city's Christian, Hindu, Muslim and Jewish faiths.
It says the best way people can respond to the protest is 'to simply ignore them.'
'Come into Manchester as usual on Saturday: go to the cinema, go shopping, go for a meal, go for a drink and just don't acknowledge the small band of people who have nothing to do with this city or what it stands for."
It accuses the EDL of spewing 'hatred and racism'.
But a statement on the group's website insists the march isn't about race 'but Islam'.
It reads: 'We demonstrate because we believe the threat posed by Islamic extremism isn’t confined to a few bearded lunatics that the police can simply round up.
'We think the problem is much greater. We think that rather than leap at every opportunity to be ‘offended’, the Muslim community in Britain should be doing all it can to defeat the dangerous extremism within it.
'And we think our government should be doing all it can to encourage them.'
The protest does mean certain roads in Manchester city centre will be closed on Saturday:
5.00am to 6.00pm - Albert Square, from the junction of Mount St. and Peter St. to the Junction of Cross St. and Princess St.
1.00pm to 4.00pm - Princess St. to Cooper St.
1.00pm to 4.00pm - Lloyd St, from its junction with Deansgate to Albert Square and Southmill (from its junction with Lloyd St. to its junction with Peter St