Racists have attacked a Bolton mosque on the eve of the mobilisation by the English Defence League in Bolton tomorrow.
Four people with knives jumped out of a car and attacked people coming out of Friday prayers at the Makka mosque in Grecian Crescent, near Bolton university.
They also targeted activists leafleting for the anti-fascist protest.
No one is believed to have been hurt and all four were arrested.
Shortly before 2.15pm on Friday 19 March 2010, police at a mosque on Grecian Crescent received a report of a man with a knife.
A local man was arrested on suspicion of possessing a bladed article and breaking into a vehicle.
Sergeant Rachel Bedford said: 'Two men noticed a man trying to break into a car some 500 yards away from the mosque, detained him and presented him to officers.
'This man was in no way linked to the English Defence League protest in Bolton tomorrow.
'We understand that there are heightened concerns in communities about this protest, and in an effort to reassure communities we have stepped up our patrols.'
Unite Against Fascism has put out an open letter to Bolton council and local police ahead of the counter-protest against the racist English Defence League (EDL) march in Bolton tomorrow. An edited extract is below.
Since their emergence in the spring of 2009, there have been fourteen counter demonstrations against the EDL, who have very close links with the British National Party (BNP).
The police and the council accepted that the EDL protest in Bolton would bring division, hatred and the threat of violence and race hate crime to the town. That formed the basis of their high level delegation to Alan Johnson asking for him to ban the EDL protest.
However, these same bodies have adopted a one-sided strategy which has favoured the EDL mobilisation for Bolton, but sought to prevent people from Bolton from showing their opposition to the EDL – which is acknowledged as a racist, anti Muslim organisation.
Specifically, the council and police have deployed considerable resources to dissuade people from attending the UAF protest – speaking at mosques, youth clubs, writing to parents, employing youth facilitators and more.
No resources have been deployed to counter racist EDL supporters from attending the EDL protest. There has been no strategy to go to pubs, football clubs, use letter writing and press releases etc urging people not to join the EDL protest.
There is no equivalence between anti-fascists and fascists
We are experiencing an attempt on the part of public bodies to equate us – anti-fascists – with the fascist EDL. This is evident from the approach taken by both the police and the local authority.
Let us be clear. People who openly abuse others on the basis of race and religion are perpetrating hate crimes.
There is no equivalence between those who want to promote and enact hate crimes and those who want to stop that from happening: there is no equivalence between the English Defence League protest and those who wish to defend multicultural, multifaith Bolton.
The have been a number of serious incidents of continued racism within Greater Manchester Police in the years following the Stephen Lawrence inquiry and the Macpherson report and its recommendations.
It is simply unacceptable for Bolton council to rely on police advice, whose track record is poor in this regard, and without properly communicating with anti fascists who are the majority of the community. Bolton council should be taking the views of its public not imposing the views of the police.
The overwhelming view of the people of Bolton is that the EDL should not be allowed to enter Bolton town centre. We will be standing side by side with the people of Bolton.
The need to apply the lessons of history is increasingly urgent. Ignoring the EDL does not work. Tomorrow, here, we are joining together in unity and strength to tell them “No Pasaran!” – “They Shall Not Pass.”
Go to » www.uaf.org.uk