Over 300 people have signed an open letter launched by Oxford Unite Against Fascism condemning the decision by the English Defence League to call a national demonstration in Oxford following the jailing of a group of men for sexual exploitation of children. Local councillors, trade union activists, and residents and students in Oxford are included in those who accuse the EDL of exploiting the suffering of these victims of abuse in an attempt to stir up race hatred against the Muslim community.
Oxford Unite Against Fascism spokesperson Tracy Walsh said "The EDL is a racist organisation that is always seeking to demonise Muslims. Now it wants to cynically exploit the terrible suffering of abused children in Oxfordshire to mount yet another attack on all Muslims, stating it wants to "keep a blowtorch on the Oxford Muslim community". This is an attempt to demonise all the followers of Islam for the actions of a few."
"The money being spent on policing the EDL would be better spent on support and protection for vulnerable children. That is why we are opposing the EDL demonstration in Oxford on 4th April".
Anji Hall, of the Oxfordshire based charity Clean Slate which provides support to young people who have been victims of abuse, said "All evidence shows that child exploitation is across all cultures, class and background. It is extremely detrimental to the victims to use their abuse to condemn certain fractions in society."
"We feel that the publics attention should be focused on the serious affects of abuse and funding treatment for victims not used for political gain. Abuse is non discriminative it can happen in any culture, race, or beliefs. To evoke racial hatred and use fear tactics to divide our communities is detrimental to victims and their families.
Oxford City Councillor Van Coutler, who will be speaking at the Oxford UAF "EDL not welcome here - justice for the victims of abuse" rally at Oxford Town Hall on Thursday evening said "In coming to Oxford, the EDL's sole intent is to cause division through its promotion of hate centred on difference. Oxford is a tolerant and harmonious city, with communities of many creeds, faiths and nationalities - bound together by hope. Any attack on that harmony cannot be allowed to succeed."
Demonstration supported by:
- Oxford and District Trades Council
- Ruskin UCU,
- Banbury GMB No1,
- Oxfordshire UNISON Health,
- Oxfordshire Fed NASUWT,
- PCS DWP South East Regional Committee
- Oxford City Unison
- East Oxford PPC for Labour Party, Green Party, and Trade Union & Socialist Coalition (TUSC)
Open letter (text below) supported by:
Cllr John Tanner, Cllr Dick Wolff, Cllr Mohammed Abbasi, Cllr Mike Rowley, Cllr Ruthi Brndt, Cllr Susannah Pressel, , Cllr Sam Hollick (leader Green councillors), Oxford and District Trades Council, Ruskin UCU, Banbury GMB No1, Oxfordshire UNISON Health, Oxfordshire Fed NASUWT, PCS DWP South East Regional Committee, Roger Mckenzie Assistant General Secretary Unison, Oxford Love Music Hate Racism, Zita Holbourn PCS NEC and national co-chair Black Activists Rising Against Cuts, activists from Oxfordshire NUT, CWU, Unite, Oxford City Unison
Additional support includes:
"On behalf of Oxford City UNISON Branch, we absolutely support any action that makes a stand against any form of Fascism, and urge everyone to make stand against any organisation that promotes the exploitation of the suffering of Oxfordshire victims of sexual abuse, in order to raise their hatred against our Muslim communities, work colleagues and neighbours.
The Demo on Saturday is our opportunity to tell them that their narrow minded views are not welcome here or anywhere, we need a big turnout to show them that we will support our Asian communities by whatever means necessary!" Caroline Glendinning, Branch Secretary Oxford City Unison.
"The EDL is a racist, hate-filled organisation, who has targeted Oxford because it is a place where different communities are living peacefully not just alongside each other, but *with* one another. In face of their attempts to divide us and turn us against our Muslim sisters and brothers, we must stand united and show them that our sense of community, respect and friendship is stronger than their hate." Green Cllr Carfax Ward Ruthi Brandt
"The EDL seek to divide and weaken our communities. They threaten our young people and are willing to cynically exploit the reality of child sexual exploitation to serve their divisive agenda. As teachers, we will stand together with the people of Oxford to reject their politics of hatred." Gawain Little Secretary, NUT Oxfordshire & National Executive member
"By cynically exploiting the suffering of victims of terrible crimes to promote their own racist political agenda, the EDL are prolonging the injury to our community. Oxford people want justice for the victims and proper planning to keep our children safe - not scapegoating and division. The EDL are not welcome in our City." Labour Cllr Mike Rowley, Barton Ward