Good Friday

I have had an interesting day. I decided that I would have a look down at the service in the market place. This is a christian service of witness which takes place each year on good friday. It is begins with a  walk through the main shopping street and ends in the market place. I used to take part in this which I was a church goer a number of years ago. My abiding memory is getting told off by someone for talking while we set off on the walk.

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The service end but I had something else planned for the afternoon. Most people know that my education is in religion and I have followed an organisation for a number of years called Hope not Hate. This was set up to counter the extremist groups such as the BNP and others and to educate those about their BNP racist agenda.

During my year in Oxford training to be a teacher I visited various places of worship including two of the main mosques in Birmingham. I have always be interested in religion and thought it was about time I spoke to some muslims about their views of various racist groups and their outlook on the continuing attacks on Islam.

I set up a meeting with someone from the Islamic Diversity Centre in Newcastle and spent time discuss my concerns and getting their perspective on life. It was certainly an interesting discussion. It was good to hear that their work is to break down the various misconceptions about Islam. They regularly speak to various groups in the north east and part of their outreach is to provide services for the homeless and elderly; something even I wasn’t familiar with.

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I was given a small gift which contained various literature about Islam. I hope that I will be able to learn more and get to know a few of the muslim population here in the north east. I attend to visit a mosque and hopefully gain more understanding of this religion.

End of the EDL

The EDL was always about the puppet at the top. He was a showman. Albeit a bad one. He was supported by people out of the scene. People who had money and an anti-muslim agenda.

The people who were brainwashed by Stephen Lennon (Tommy Robinson) were the ordinary people in the streets. They fell for his lies about Islam and directed his hate to all Muslims. This was generalisation and prejudice at its worst. It caused damage to a lot of communities and divided a lot of people. What it did do was galvanise a side of people (including myself) to stand up to peoples prejudices. I was certainly happy to join the anti-fascism march back in May of this year against the EDL in Newcastle.

Take a rough straw poll of people opinions on twitter I can see many are dismayed that Stephen has jumped ship calling him a traitor and other unsavoury words. It showed you how much there were sheep following one another and being at his beck and call. Other have congratulated him for taking the EDL this far. I just ask the question “What actually have they done?”.

They have terrorised and abused people in this country not just Muslims but those who have stood up to their appalling beliefs. They have cost the taxpayer millions of pound insisting they protest around various parts of the country. Money that could have been spent more wisely.

I believe it’s the end of the road for the EDL but not for vile right-wing views.

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Still grumpy

Gari Wellingham

UK-based musical theatre geek previously living with a brain tumour!