It is reported that a large Muslim festival was cancelled due to escalating racial tensions post Brexit. Up to 2,000 people were expected to gather in East Park, Southampton, to celebrate Eid – the end of the holy month of Ramadan on Monday and Tuesday.
But the organisers–British Bangladeshi Cultural Academy–have cancelled the event after far-right groups threatened to hold a protest in the city following the EU referendum vote.
Although the demonstrations, which include a rival anti-racist and pro-refugee march, are not linked to the festival or planned for the same day, organisers believe it is ‘for the good of all communities’ to cancel it.
Members of the far-right Pie and Mash Squad, who describe themselves as ‘a group of people who love Pie n Mash and Britain the way it used to be’, along with a faction of the group called South Coast Resistance, are reported to have said that they will hold the demonstration in the city. Posting on social media they encouraged demonstrators to ‘join us to celebrate Brexit and an end to mass immigration’. They have also put up posts saying ‘no more refugees’.
A number of groups such as pro-refugee organisation Refugees Welcome and anti-facist group Southampton AntiFa held a counter-demonstration in the same area, on Saturday.
Shere Sattar, chairman of the British Bangladeshi Cultural Academy, was quoted as saying that is it best to cancel the big prayer in the city in wake of the political situation and unrest in UK after leaving the EU, the rise of racist activity and comments around other cities around the country, and Pie and Mash deciding to visit Southampton. Mr Sattar added that although the gathering for Eid, which is held to mark the end of the Islamic Holy Month of fasting, has been cancelled, they hope to hold other events in Southampton later this year.
Police are reported to have said that they are aware of the demonstrations and had planned to ensure the events were peaceful.
The UK has seen a 57 per cent rise in race-hate crime following the referendum decision to leave the EU last week. Among the dozens of reported incidents are.