Southampton Eid ceremony cancelled due to security fears over far-right demo

British Bangladesh Cultural Academy (BBCA)

Eid ul-Fitr celebrations in Southampton have been cancelled over security fears over a planned far-right demonstration. 

The British Bangladesh Cultural Academy (BBCA) said it has been forced to cancel its Eid ul-Fitr event in a Southampton park following a planned protest by the “South Coast Resistance” group at the weekend. 

Thousands had been expected to attend the annual Islamic event to celebrate the end of Ramadan.

Shere Sattar told the BBC: “We have decided it would be best if we cancel the huge gathering considering the political situation and unrest in the UK after leaving the EU and the rise of racist activity and comments around the other cities.”

The demonstration in Southampton city centre by the far-right group – which is calling for “an end to mass immigration” – is due to take place next Saturday.

The group said they plan to march under a banner saying “Refugees Not Welcome”. 

A counter-protest has been organised by a group called Southampton Anti-fascists at the same time.

A Facebook event for the counter-demonstration suggests more than 700 will attend

Despite the cancellation, the BBCA has insisted Eid al-Adha celebrations in September will still go ahead as planned, and al-Fitr prayers would be heard in local mosques. 

A spokeswoman for Hampshire Police confirmed they had been informed about the planned anti-immigration demo, and said they were planning “carefully to police them in the most appropriate way”. 

She said: “This is to make sure people are able to exercise their right to demonstrate, without the need for police intervention to protect or in some cases, restrict those rights and also to make sure the event is peaceful.

“We would like to reassure our communities and local residents that we are here to speak to and discuss any concerns they may have.”

The National Police Chiefs’ Council reports a fivefold increase in the number of racially motivated hate crimes in the week following the EU referendum.

 

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