An academy is to host a public meeting to counter an anti-Islam demonstration in Croydon later this month. Oasis Academy Shirley Park in Ashburton will hold a roundtable event on Thursday July 11 for locals to publicly reject the protest by the English Volunteer Force (EVF).
The EVF, an English Defence League splinter group, is to stage a rally at the UK Border Agency’s Lunar House headquarters on July 27. The group says it is protesting “Islamic, African and east European immigrants,” who it claims “suck and bleed our country dry”. Oasis’s meeting, which will be held at its the primary academy building in Long Lane, will invite community groups and local residents to respond to the EVF and celebrate the diversity of Croydon. The meeting, hosted by Oasis founder Steve Chalke, will run from 7pm to 11pm.
Mr Chalke, who is from Croydon, said: “Freedom of speech is an important part of life in Britain, but it is clear that the EVF is in no way attempting to make a positive contribution to debate or dialogue. Instead, this protest is destined to spark fear and intimidation in Croydon’s communities and damage the borough’s reputation as a place of happy diversity and tolerance. We encourage people to attend our public meeting and make a clear statement that this protest is not in their name.”
Glen Denham, principal of Oasis Academy Shirley Park, said: “Our academy strives to be an active and positive member of its community and that means taking a stand against hatred in whatever form it manifests. Given that I lead a diverse school with many Islamic students amongst our number, I feel an extra responsibility to unambiguously proclaim that the sentiments held by these protesters could not be more distant form the values and ethos of Oasis.”