SATURDAY 3rd September 2011 saw the English Defence League (EDL) defy a 30-day UK-wide marching ban by the home secretary Theresa May, and staged what is being described as a "static march".
Approximately 500 anti-EDL protestors also turned up and took to the streets. Despite 16 arrests of EDL protesters, the 3,000-strong police operation managed to keep the two groups apart.
Eye-witnesses in the area reported that the vast majority of the anti-EDL protesters were in fact white British non-Muslims.
Protest placards carried by the anti-EDL protesters displayed varying anti-racism messages as well as "smash EDL".
The local community in the area came together, and it was common to see Muslims, non-Muslims, Jews and anti-fascist protesters standing side by side in the lines they formed in Whitechapel Road in solidarity against the EDL.
Eye-witnesses at the East London Mosque reported that the mosque was allowing non-Muslims access to their facilities. This camaraderie was mirrored by the surrounding shops and restaurants, who handed out drinks in the 26 degree heat and allowed people to use their toilets.
If the EDL goes to bed tonight convinced that their march was a success, they have got it all-so-wrong. The solidarity displayed by the mix of anti-EDL protesters – Jews linked arm-in-arm with Muslims and anti-fascists (whatever their beliefs) – is confirmation that the EDL’s hatred of Muslims and other so-called "non-English cultures" is seriously misplaced.
The EDL preaches intolerance. The anti-EDL marchers today – despite numbering far less than the English Defence League protesters – serves to show that the general British population still has some sense of togetherness. The UK is a multi-cultural society, whether the English Defence League accept this or not. The unity on show today by the anti-EDL protesters lends hope to the idea that community spirit is alive and well in Tower Hamlets, regardless of people’s religious beliefs.