Saffiyah Khan said she felt compelled to step in when Ian Crossland and over 20 of his supporters confronted a Muslim woman
A brave woman pictured staring down the leader of the far-right English Defence League has said she “was not scared in the slightest”.
Saffiyah Khan said she felt compelled to step in when Ian Crossland and over 20 EDL supporters confronted a woman wearing a hijab who had been shouting at them.
Saffiyah, who was observing the EDL protest in Birmingham yesterday, claimed police “did nothing” to protect the woman.
But when she stepped in, the group turned on her and she was caught in a stand-off with Crossland which was caught on camera.
She is seen stood with one hand in her pocket calmly looking down at irate Crossland.
The picture, taken by Press Association photographer Joe Giddens. has been shared thousands of times across social media by celebrities and politicians.
Good Morning Britain host Piers Morgan tweeted the snap and wrote: “**PHOTO OF THE WEEK** Enraged EDL racist stared down by amused, contemptuous Asian woman.”
**PHOTO OF THE WEEK**
Enraged EDL racist stared down by amused, contemptuous Asian woman. #Birmingham
(via @AlexisTrust) pic.twitter.com/5kBdrrgvGf
— Piers Morgan (@piersmorgan) April 8, 2017
Local 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”
Saffiyah, of Birmingham, said: “The reason I was there was because I am a Brummie.
“This was happening in Birmingham and it felt right. I am not a political activist.
“I wasn’t in a confrontational role, I wanted to keep a low profile.
“I was there with a few friends to look after people – because Muslims and people of colour are often abused.
“Nothing was really happening until a woman in a headscarf started shouting ‘racist’.
“About 20 to 25 EDL people ran over and surrounded her. She looked absolutely terrified. I still hung back and waited for the police to sort it out.
“I waited two or three minutes and but the police did nothing, so I decided to go and try and get her out of there.
“It all happened very quickly. She left, but then I was identified as anti-fascist. The group turned on me.
“Ian Crossland was poking his finger in my face, but I just stood there. I didn’t do anything, I wasn’t interested, that wasn’t my intention.
“I couldn’t understand what was being said though to be honest, it was all very mumbled.
“But I wasn’t scared in the slightest. I stay pretty calm in these situations. I knew they were trying to provoke me, but I wasn’t going to be provoked.
“I was just holding out. Then I was just pulled out of there, I wasn’t arrested or charged.
“I have lost my anonymity because of the picture, but on balance it was worth it.
“I have probably been profiled by them now and I have to take one for the team.
“I didn’t realise how many people would be so supportive, so it was worth it.”
Meanwhile Birmingham Central Mosque opened its doors to people of all religions and ethnicities for a ‘Best of British’ tea party in response to the EDL protest.
EDL switched their demonstration from the East Midlands to Birmingham after the Westminster terror attack , to highlight what it claims as a “continued increase in Islamic terrorism” linked to the city.
But Muhammed Afzal, Birmingham Central Mosque’s chairman, said communities in the city would remain united irrespective of their religion or race.
“When the English Defence League is protesting and trying to divide the community, we are holding this party just to prove to them that Birmingham is a multicultural, multi-ethnic and multi-faith community,” Mr Afzal said.
West Midlands’ elected Police and Crime Commissioner, David Jamieson attended the party and claimed the EDL was bringing “little more than division” to the region.