The NUJ believes allowing the English Defence League (EDL) to march through Bradford runs a serious risk that local communities will be attacked, threatened and subjected to racist abuse and supports calls on the Home Secretary not to allow the demonstration to go ahead.
The EDL is primarily an anti-Muslim organisation made up of football hooligans, racists, fascists and former loyalist paramilitaries.
The EDL plan to mobilise in Bradford on Saturday 28 August. They are calling the event ‘the big one’. EDL members are clear they want to provoke the city’s large Muslim population. Almost a third of the people living in Bradford are Muslim, the second highest proportion anywhere in England outside of London.
EDL demonstrations are intended to frighten people, provoke trouble and attack minority communities. In Stoke on Trent a mosque was daubed with racist slogans and graffiti referring to an upcoming English Defence League event.
The EDL does not hesitate to physically attack its opponents and the police - its demonstrations in Dudley, Nottingham and Birmingham provide the evidence of its violent nature.
The EDL have also attacked and threatened NUJ members who are carrying out their work. NUJ members seek to publish and broadcast materials exposing the myths and lies of racist organisations like the EDL.
An EDL supporters group called ‘Casuals United’ warns photographers: “Whinging left wing idiots - you wanna film the protests for hostile purposes, you accept the anger you clowns.”
The NUJ demands that journalists be allowed to do their work without violent threats and harassment. NUJ members have been attacked by the EDL.
Medyan Dairieh, Al jazeera reporter and NUJ member has been threatened by the EDL whilst trying to do his job and said “The EDL have tried to attack me many times and they scream at me Al jazeera terrorist and jihadist.”
NUJ member Marc Vallee was attacked and threatened by the leader of the EDL youth division last December. Marc Vallée said: “Professional photographers have been subjected to violence and intimidation by right-wing thugs when documenting EDL protests. Journalists should be free to go about their lawful and necessary work without such targeted intimidation. These threats are designed to silence the media and stop photographers showing the true nature of the EDL protests”
NUJ General Secretary Jeremy Dear said: “The atmosphere of menace which the EDL seek to generate may be disproportionate to their size and level of public support, but their activities can still constitute a serious threat to working journalists and to the communities in which we live. The NUJ fully support the calls from anti-racists, other trade unionists, community groups, political parties and faith groups to stop the EDL bringing their bigotry and Islamophobia to Bradford. The EDL incite hatred and are violent, the EDL should be stopped from continually wreaking havoc in our towns."