08/04/2017 09:57 BST | Updated 08/04/2017 13:17 BST

EDL Birmingham Demo Countered By Mosque Tea Party

'Cuppa and a chat.'

Birmingham Central Mosque (BCM) is to counter a planned demonstration by the English Defence League (EDL) on Saturday afternoon with an ever-so-British tea party.

Bunting, Union Jacks and a general sense of positivity will be on show in force in the hope attention will be drawn away from the far-right group’s march.

The EDL will be looking to improve upon last week’s protest in London which was marred by an underwhelming turnout.

LATEST: So far, turnout is poor.


West Midlands Police expect fewer than 100 protesters to attend the EDL event, taking place at the same time as a nearby counter-demonstration, reports the Press Association.

Advertising the tea party on its website, the BCM said:

While the English Defence League and counter demonstrators protest elsewhere in the city, the mosque will be open to all and serving tea, coffee and cakes while draped in bunting and Union Flags.

The tea party will start at 11am and the general public are invited to attend and enjoy a cuppa and a chat with their neighbours.

The tea party is currently enjoying a far higher turnout than the EDL march.

PA Wire/PA Images
Balloons are released during a "best of British" tea party for the public at the Birmingham Central Mosque.
BCM's flyer for the event.

Muhammed Afzal, chairman of Birmingham Central Mosque, said: “We would love the focus of Saturday to be our tea party rather than the protests going on elsewhere.

“Our mosque is open to all and we thought the best response to the demonstrations would be to invite our neighbours round for a cup of tea.”

The EDL originally planned to march in Derby but moved the event to Birmingham because the city was “frequented” by Westminster terror attacker Khalid Masood. 

Cross-party political leaders in the city have issued a joint message opposing all forms of extremism ahead of the march.

The leaders of the Labour, Liberal Democrat and Conservative groups on Birmingham City Council urged people to go about their business as usual during the EDL protest on Saturday.

A statement issued by the city council on behalf of party group leaders John Clancy, Robert Alden and Jon Hunt said: “The English Defence League is not welcome in Birmingham. They will never be welcome in Birmingham. 

Darren Staples / Reuters
The central Mosque is seen during Friday prayers in Birmingham, central England February 2, 2007.

“We would urge people to go about their normal everyday business.

“There is no place in our city for messages of hate. There is no place for intolerance and there is no place for violence or extremism of any kind.”

An EDL march in Birmingham on July 20 2013 saw missiles, including stones, bottles and broken glass, hurled at police officers in Centenary Square, resulting in several minor injuries.

More than 50 men were later convicted of violent disorder, including a 21-year-old who was jailed for three years and 10 months.

Two other men were charged with violent disorder after a counter-protest held on the same day.

The EDL has said its latest rally aims to highlight what it describes as a “continued increase in Islamic terrorism” linked to Birmingham.

The march is due to start at 1:15PM.