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Bishop says EDL march "not in our name"

The Bishop of Coventry and the Director of the Coventry Refugee & Migrant Centre have written an open letter in response to the English Defence League's announcement they are to hold a demonstration in the city next weekend. It says, the "people who live and work in Coventry – want to send a clear message to the EDL and to the rest of the country: this march is not in our name". The letter has been signed by over 150 other local leaders.

The full text of the letter

The so-called English Defence League are holding a march in Coventry on May 21.

We the undersigned – people who live and work in Coventry – want to send a clear message to the EDL and to the rest of the country: this march is not in our name.

The EDL describe themselves as English patriots and say: 'We know of and respect the suffering in the Coventry Blitz.' However, if they knew our city's history, they would know that out of this suffering came Coventry’s global reputation as a city of peace and reconciliation. Our city is proud to welcome everyone, regardless of religious or ethnic background.

The EDL say that they will focus on how this 'once proud cathedral city is…being gutted by its transformation into a Muslim ghetto.'  However, with all its ethnic and religious diversity, Coventry remains a city that is proud of its Cathedral. And its people will never forget how the forces of hatred unleashed in the last century brought about the destruction of Cathedral and city alike. Since then, both city and Cathedral have become beacons of hope for a renewed world: a world in which people live at peace with their neighbours, free from fear and suspicion, and can work together for the common good. 

The EDL say that they want to focus on radicalisation, and on the issues in Edgwick Park. However, as our city unites to seek solutions to these problems, the EDL seek to divide us by blaming entire communities for the actions of a few. And they completely ignore the richness that has come to our city through our long history of opening our doors to the world.

The EDL claim to be exercising their right to free speech. However, rights come with duties, and the right to freedom of speech comes with the duty to use it for peace and for the common good. We see no evidence in the EDL of a commitment to expressing their views in constructive ways. Previous EDL demonstrations have seen outbreaks of violence, cases of vandalism, and an unwelcome burden on our police.

We the undersigned are committed to Coventry being a city of peace and not fear, diversity not division, and welcome not hatred. This vision is a legacy of our city’s past, and it offers us genuine hope for the future. Across our country, British patriots of all religious and ethnic backgrounds share Coventry’s commitment to living together in peace, and are proud to do so. We urge the EDL to respect our city’s heritage of reconciliation. We say to them that any actions that threaten our city’s peaceful relationships are not welcome here. We say that their march is not, and never can be, in our name.

Christopher Cocksworth
Bishop of Coventry

Sabir Zazai
Director, Coventry Refugee & Migrant Centre


Additional signatories to the above letter
  • Cllr Ann Lucas OBE, Leader, Coventry City Council
  • Geoffrey Robinson, MP
  • Cllr Faye Abbott, Coventry City Council
  • The Right Reverend John Stroyan, Bishop of Warwick
  • Ghulam Vohra, Hillfields Muslim Association and Umar Education and Welfare Trust
  • Lynne Adams, Secretary, The Coventry German Circle
  • Paul Andrew, Coventry Green Party
  • Cllr Allan Andrews, Deputy Leader of Coventry Conservatives, Trustee of Coventry Refugee and Migrant Centre
  • The Reverend Stella Bailey, St Mary Magdalen, Hearsall Common
  • Lee Barron, Regional Secretary, Midlands TUC
  • Dr Dawud Bone, Research Fellow at Cambridge Muslim College; Member of Coventry Quaker Meeting; Member of the Coventry Muslim Forum
  • Fr Michael Brandon, Priest-in-Charge, Precious Blood & All Souls Earlsdon
  • The Reverend Tim Brooke
  • Gyllian Brown
  • The Reverend Andrew Charlesworth, Deputy Superintendent, Coventry & Nuneaton Methodist Church
  • Dr Sariya Cheruvallil-Contractor, Research Fellow in Faith & Peaceful Relations, Coventry University
  • Barbara Clarke, Co-clerk, Coventry Quaker Local Meeting
  • Nobby Clarke, Project Coordinator, Coventry Winter Night Shelter
  • The Reverend Mike Cleveland, St Laurence, Foleshill
  • Tony Conway, Coventry Against Racism
  • Coventry CAB:  Trustees, Staff & Volunteers of Coventry Citizens Advice Bureau
  • Victoria Cowell
  • Gerard Coyne, Regional Secretary for Unite the Union in the West Midlands
  • Professor Stuart Croft, University of Warwick
  • The Reverend Rosie Deedes, Anglican Chaplain, Spirituality & Faith Centre
  • Balvinder Dhanjal
  • Cllr George Duggins, Leader-elect Coventry City Council
  • Ann Farr, Board Member, Pax Christi International
  • The Very Reverend Canon Fr Thomas Farrell, Roman Catholic Dean of Coventry
  • Sarah Feeney, UNISON Coventry City Branch
  • Cllr Damian Gannon, Coventry City Council
  • Tim Godwin, Chair, Coventry Refugee & Migrant Centre
  • Ray Goy, Principal, Henley College, Coventry
  • The Reverend Carol Hamilton-Foyn, Superintendent Minister, Coventry & Nuneaton Methodist Circuit
  • Bridget Harper
  • Enobong Inyang, Chair, Coventry University Students’ Union Executive Committee
  • Cllr Abdul Salam Khan, Deputy Leader, Coventry City Council
  • Gavin Kibble, Coventry Foodbank
  • Penelope Halpin, former volunteer, Peace House night shelter
  • Professor Mike Hardy
  • The Reverend Matthew Hill, House of the Risen Sun
  • The Reverend Canon Dr Sarah Hills, Canon for Reconciliation Ministry, Coventry Cathedral
  • Moya Horton, Coventry Cathedral Christian Aid Coordinator
  • Dr Deryck Horton
  • Jonathan Idle
  • The Reverend Dr Stuart Jennings, University Chaplain & Trustee, Coventry Mult-Faith Forum
  • Massey Kharati, Housing Office, Coventry Refugee & Migrant Centre
  • Sroosh Kouhyar, Integration Support Officer
  • Cllr Rachel Lancaster, Coventry City Council
  • Cllr Ram Lakha, Coventry City Council
  • Richard Le Mare
  • Sean Leahy, Chair, Coventry & Warwickshire Unite Local Tom Mann Branch WM6050
  • Graeme Leng-Ward
  • Donald and Ann Lindon, Allesley Community of Reconciliation
  • Matthew Ling, Pastor, City Church Coventry
  • Tony McNally, Managing Director, Climate Change Solutions
  • Barbara McGowan, Coventry Multi-Faith Forum: Birmingham Catholic Archdiocesan Commission for Inter-Religious Dialogue
  • Paul McGowan, Coventry RC Justice and Peace Group
  • Jane Manton, Coventry Earth Spirit Co-ordinator
  • Jill Marsh
  • John Marshall
  • The Reverend David Mayhew, Holy Trinity Church, Coventry
  • The Reverend Josh Maynard, St James’ Church, Styvechale
  • Jeremy Mead, Facilities Officer, Coventry Refugee & Migrant Centre
  • Dr Justine Mercer, Warwick UCU President
  • The Reverend Craig Muir, Minister, the United Reformed Church in North & East Coventry; Area Minister, United Reformed Church in Coventry & Warwickshire
  • Eleanor Nesbitt, Co-Clerk, Coventry Quaker Meeting
  • Dr Marijn Nieuwenhuis, University of Warwick
  • Shaban Noshai, Safeguarding Officer
  • Dr Alison Payne, former doctor at The Meridian Health Centre for Refugees & Asylum Seekers
  • Kris Pears
  • Nicola Pratt, University of Warwick
  • The Reverend Tulo Raistrick, St Barbara’s Church, Earlsdon
  • The Reverend Mark Rowland, Minister & Team Leader, the Methodist Church at Coventry Central Hall
  • Cllr Ed Ruane, Coventry City Council
  • Sue Sampson, Carriers of Hope, Coventry
  • Dr Abdullah Shehu, Chair, Coventry Muslim Forum
  • Osman Sheikh, Quills Consultancy
  • Cllr Bally Singh, Coventry City Council
  • Dr Gurnam Singh, Principal Lecturer in Social Work, Coventry University & Visiting Professor of Social Work, University of Chester
  • Paschal Somers, Chair, Coventry Deanery Justice and Peace Group
  • Fadel Takrouri, Chairperson, British Arab Federation
  • Lisa Tilley, Warwick
  • The Reverend Malcolm Tyler, St Mary’s Church, Walsgrave
  • The Reverend Pauline Warner
  • The Reverend Brett Western-Jones, House of the Risen Sun
  • Janet Wiltshire, Joint Council, Chapel of Unity
  • The Very Reverend John Witcombe, Dean of Coventry
  • The Reverend Arthur Woo, Christ Church, Cheylesmore
  • The Reverend Hanna Woodall, St Paul’s Church, Foleshill
  • Michael Adams
  • Dr Cassie Adjei
  • Shamim Abbasi
  • Dr Addy Adelaine
  • Gillian Anderson
  • Margaret Anetts
  • Cllr Dr Randhir Auluck, Coventry City Council & Vice-Chair Coventry Refugee & Migrant Centre
  • Dr Jessica Ayesha Northey
  • Lee Barron, Regional Secretary, Midlands TUC
  • Eveleigh Buck-Matthews
  • Dr Mateja Celestina
  • Dr Gordon Crawford
  • Professor Heaven Crawley
  • Eve Czekus
  • David Curran
  • Dr Kate Day
  • Lisa Dundas
  • Vikki Fennell
  • Ruth Forecast
  • Dr John Garrett
  • Merle Gering, Green Party
  • Rachel Gering-Hasthorpe
  • David Gibson
  • Thea Gibbs
  • Gary Hall, Pagan Federation Regional Coordinator (Coventry & Warwickshire)
  • Samima Hussain
  • The Revd Gareth Irvine
  • Jean Jackson
  • Dr Katharine Jones
  • Manjit Kaur
  • Mig Kerr, Coventry Quakers
  • Kidz Klub Coventry
  • Dr Cedric Krummes
  • Dave Leach
  • Sean Leahy, Coventry & Warwickshire Unite Local Tom Mann Branch WM6050
  • Josie Llewelyn, Parkside Residents' Group
  • Ruth Longoni, Chair, Lord Mayor's Committee for Peace & Reconciliation
  • The Revd Tim Lowe, United Reformed Church serving North Coventry
  • Dr E J Milne
  • Carol Milner
  • Dr Walter Milner
  • Chas Morrison
  • Kamran Muir
  • Tim Naylor
  • Elaine O'Brien
  • Dr Peter O'Brien
  • Yolanda O'Brien
  • Sinead Ouillon
  • Neslihan Ozfaris
  • Margaret Parker, Coventry Cathedral
  • Richard Parker, University of Warwick
  • Dr Carol Rank
  • Dr Rebecca Roberts
  • Dr Chris Shannahan
  • Andrew Simkins, Lead Pastor, Jubilee Church, Coventry
  • Sri Guru Singh Sabbha Gurdwara, Cross Road, Foleshill
  • Ruth Stagg
  • Dr Georgy Toth
  • Kam Vadukul
  • Catherine Vonledebur
  • J E Vonledebur
  • Walter Waddilove, Member, Coventry Quakers; Founder Trustee, Coventry Peace House Charity; 
  • Cathy Wattebot
  • Sanne Webber
  • Laurence Wood
  • Dr Miriam Wood, Retired GP, Resident of Coventry
  • Alison Baxter, Community Development Worker, Carriers of Hope
  • Sue Bent, Chief Executive, Central England Law Centre
  • Helen Bradford
  • Ian Crute
  • Liz Crute
  • David Epstein FRS
  • Rona Epstein   
  • Ruth Hallett, West Coventry Woodcraft Folk
  • Isaac Leigh, Warwick SU, University of Warwick
  • Anthony J O'Brien
  • Dr Miho Taka
  • Saleem Sheikh
  • Julia Tudway
  • Dr Jeremy Tudway
  • Simon Watkins, Coventry Quakers
  • G Watson
  • Laura Wightman
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