HUNDREDS of red roses with messages of peace will be handed out by diversity supporters when the English Defence League hosts a rally in Preston city centre this weekend.
Preston and South Ribble Trades Council and United Against Fascism is hosting a diversity event – One Preston, One Community - on the Flag Market from 12pm-2pm.
The event will coincide with the EDL’s planned demonstration.
In publicity for the rally, the EDL describes Preston as ‘another creeping Sharia city’.
The group references claims in national newspapers that parts of Preston are ‘no-go’ area for non-Muslims. The claims were dismissed at the time as ludicrous by police and faith groups in the city.
Father Timothy Lipscombe, Vicar of Preston is supporting the diversity event.
He said: “It’s clear from our daily lives that people of all faith and cultures have respect and admiration for one another. We are united in our desire to see a continuation of love, peace and community cohesion.
“On Saturday people of different ages, and from all walks of life, will be meeting to celebrate are diversity and all the things that bind us together in being proud Prestonians.”
The Mosques of Preston are collaborating to provide free hot food and savouries, refreshments and desserts and a number of activities will take place including a multi-faith prayer and contemplation, the Manchester School of Samba will perform and a church choir will sing.
There will be free Arabic calligraphy and henna painting sessions, a street artist and roses, balloons and sweets will be handed out.
Moulana Khalid Ibrahim, Quwwat Education centre said: “We are tired of these people coming to try and divide our great city.
“We love Preston and we want to show that we can rise higher than them on a religious and community platform based on dignity, respect, peace and harmony.”
Peter Rankin, Council Leader, Preston City Council added: “Preston is a welcoming and tolerant city and down the years has welcomed people of many races and creeds who live and work harmoniously together.
“But however tolerant we may be we don’t welcome people who come with hate in their hearts who want to insult and harm our citizens.”