Hundreds mark Norway massacre with flowers in call to ban EDL march through East End
Hundreds of protesters stood in silence at a rally in East London last night with raised flowers to remember the 76 people killed in the Norway massacre by the self-confessed bomber Anders Behring.
The rally, calling for the Home Secretary to ban a proposed march by the English Defence League through Whitechapel, came at the end of a day when a delegation led by the Mayor of Tower Hamlets and the new Bishop of Stepney met the Norwegian ambassador and signed the Book of Condolence.
“I know the dangers of extremism has been in your minds in the aftermath of the horrors committed in Norway,” Mayor Lutfur Rahman told the 300-strong rally.
“I know your heart will have been moved by the grieving of the Norwegian people.
“So I was proud and saddened to go to the Norwegian embassy with faith and community leaders to offer condolences and solidarity from the people of Tower Hamlets.”
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He has written to Theresa May urging police to use their powers to stop the EDL coming to Whitechapel, adding yet more weight to calls for a ban from MPs, councillors, London Assembly figures and church leaders.
Norwegian trade unionists flew to London from Oslo to speak at the rally staged at London Muslim Centre along the Whitechapel Road—where the EDL plan to march on September 3.
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The Bishop of Stepney, the Rt Rev Adrian Newman, in his first public engagement since his inauguration last Friday—ironically on the day of the Oslo massacre—was cheered when he told the rally: “I’ve already been criticised for standing shoulder to shoulder against fascism.
“But I stand with the people of the East End—this is no place for hate.”
The East End United alliance which organised last night’s gathering plan their own march and rally on September 3 to counter the EDL march on the same day, to be staged at Weavers Field in Bethnal Green.
Tower Hamlets Interfaith Forum’s chairman Alan Green, parish priest at Bethnal Green, told the East London Advertiser: “It will have the language of protest to show the EDL they’re not wanted here.
“We don’t want others setting up a separate demo—we have to show solidarity, a united East End against fascism and hate.”
Last night’s packed gathering heard from 35 speakers from the Jewish, Muslim, Christian and other faith communities, as well as MP Jeremy Corbyn and former London mayor Ken Livingstone.
Speakers also included a veteran of the 1936 ‘Battle of Cable Street’, former Stepney councillor Max Levitas (pictured), now aged 96, who received a standing ovation when he spoke of how the East End came together to keep out Oswald Mosley’s Blackshirts 75 years ago. History had called on the East End once again, he urged, to keep out fascists today.