Open letter in response to Norwich Christian faith leaders' statement opposing a demonstration by the English Defence League. Click here to go straight to the letter.
I am writing to voice my disappointment at your statement regarding the English Defence League’s proposed march in Norwich, which is lacking in charity just as much as in knowledge about the EDL.
We are a diverse and inclusive group with supporters from many backgrounds, including Islam. We value the cohesion that comes from integration of different groups.
Our aim is a society where every man, woman and child is equal under the law of the land – a goal the patriot and martyr Benazir Bhutto, amongst others, soundly agreed with.
You wish us to refrain from raising awareness of the muzzling of one of your co-religionists, Pastor Alan Clifford of the Norwich Reformed Church, who was accused of spreading hate with his leaflet Why Not Islam. Are you sure it is us and not free speech you oppose?
I note that you align yourself with a group called We are Norwich. This has echoes of We are Walthamstow, an unelected group of 200 people who threw bricks and bottles at us in the name of the 250,000 residents of this area. Norwich has 140,000 residents – how many are members of We are Norwich? Who elected them? Who gave them a mandate not merely to say "we represent Norwich" but "we are Norwich"?
I wonder how many of you have experienced an EDL demonstration from our side. I invite those of you who haven’t to come to one of our demos to see us bear witness to radical equality. (You might be offended by the language, but that’s how we plebs talk sometimes.)
I also invite those of you who have no experience of us to ask yourselves: wasn’t it presumptious to put your name to a statement that judges us in a way your Founder would have considered intolerable?