Edinburgh’s Jews will not stand by while fascists threaten their Muslim neighbours, a leading figure in the capital’s faith community said today. Sukkat Shalom chairman Norman Crane offered words of support today after the city’s council said it would let the far-right Scottish Defence League march down the Royal Mile next month.
The SDL, known for taunting nazi salutes and racist attacks, plans a provocative march through the heart of the international Fringe Festival on August 17 – and councillors have approved the demonstration, saying police had reported “no significant public order issues” in recent years. Mr Crane said he could not understand why the march had been allowed – “freedom of speech, I suppose.” But he had attended an emergency meeting with anti-racist activists on Monday evening and would “strongly support” any counter-demonstration.
Mr Crane said he understood the way in which groups like the SDL played on tensions in the Middle East in order to present religious conflicts as inevitable in multicultural communities. But Jews and Muslims in Edinburgh could play a powerful role “in opposition to that message.” He said: “The more we’re seen to stand together, the better.”
Fellow worshipper Catherine Lyons warned against dismissing far-right groups as irrelevant. “The EDL and the BNP may seem like insignificant minorities, but, we [are] reminded, the nazis entered the Reichstag with 2.6 per cent of the vote in 1928,” she said.
The pledge follows a statement from the Scottish Council of Jewish Communities last week condemning “the irrational hatred” directed against Muslims. “We deplore the message of hate of those who seek to stir up racial and religious tension and express our solidarity with all those who are the target of their warped views,” it said.