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A packed room of people attended a meeting called by As-Salaam and the Leicester Racial Equality Council to show support for the Muslim Charity in the face of racist intimidation from EDL supporters.
Chino from Racial Equality Council spoke at the meeting and said this is not a faith issue but a race issue because many of the protesters (known as the Forgotten Estates) cannot tell the difference between Hindus and Muslims. Their abuse gets nastier when anyone who is not white enters the building.
He stated that the local press never reports that the protesters are a very small minority in Thurnby Lodge.
Mohamed Lockhart (Imam of As-Salaam) spoke to say that As-Salaam is a registered charity and wants to expand to provide many services for the whole community. It was going from strength to strength until they were targeted by protesters after they were offered the use of the local derelict scout hut. The protesters were led by the EDL and BNP (Nick Griffin came to speak to the protesters).
As-Salaam have been patient and tolerant and played by the rules. They have tolerated disgusting abuse of their families without retaliating. In return the city council has now given the scout hut rent free to the Forgotten Estates and offered another building to As-Salaam which they would like to accept but it is impossible because the rent of the lease is far too high for them to afford – much higher than the scout hut. Despite getting the scout hut for free – the intimidation from Forgotten Estates continues.
As-Salaam approached their local MP, Keith Vaz, but he shouted them out of his office and has subsequently given his full support to the EDL headed Forgotten Estates. At the end of December the situation came to a head when a pig’s head was left at the doors of the community centre to further provoke and intimidate As-Salaam. 22 year old Liam Ferrar has since admitted to the offence. He is an organizer of Forgotten Estates.
Paul from UAF spoke at the meeting and gave many examples of where the racists have been chased out of areas with the help of trade unions, local people, journalists etc.
Leon from the Progressive Jewish Community stood up in the meeting and declared his full support for As-Salaam and offered to help in anyway. Jackie from UAF said that too many concessions have been made to the EDL like when they were allowed to march through Leicester two years ago.
One attendee got a big applause when he pointed out the bias of the local newspaper the Leicester Mercury. Multi Faith Group representatives were also there along with people from the tenants association and local residents.
The whole room agreed that As-Salaam have been treated very unfairly and agreed to put their name to a letter addressed to the city council.