Saffiyah Khan, the woman who defied the EDL, speaks out
Birmingham who smiled in defiance at English Defence League protester becomes symbol of city standing up to far-right group
A photograph showing a young woman smiling bemusedly at an incensed English Defence League protester has been widely shared as a symbol of Birmingham’s defiance in the face of the far right.
The image, which has been shared thousands of times on social media, was captured during a demonstration by the far-right group in Birmingham city centre on Saturday. It shows an EDL protester Ian Crossland staring into the eyes of the young woman, who is looking back at him unfazed. A police officer appears to be restraining Crossland.
The woman pictured has been identified as Saffiyah Khan, who is from Birmingham. Her family has links to Bosnia and Pakistan. She said the picture was taken when she stepped in to defend a woman wearing a hijab, who had been surrounded by a group of the protesters after she called them racists.
“She was quite a small woman,” Khan said. “When I realised that nothing was being done [by police] and she was being surrounded 360, that’s when I came in as well.” She described the man who confronted her as “an angry man having a bit of a rant”.
Speaking to Radio New Zealand, Khan said the best responses she has had from the photograph were from people who had got in touch to tell her how the picture had personally affected them. “I’ve had lots of stories about [people’s] daughters being affected and how they see me as a role model,” she said.
The EDL demonstration attracted about 100 people and was condemned by the Labour, Liberal Democrat and Conservative leaders of Birmingham city council, who said the group was not and never would be welcome in their city.
The demonstration attracted a heavy police presence, including riot vans. West Midlands police said two people, thought to be counter-protesters, had been arrested for alleged breaches of the peace.
Tweeting the photograph, which was taken by Press Association photographer Joe Giddens, Birmingham MP Jess Phillips wrote: “Who looks like they have power here, the real Brummy on the left or the EDL who migrated for the day to our city and failed to assimilate?” Her tweet had been shared and liked nearly 18,000 times by Sunday evening.
Source By https://www.theguardian.com