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 pic.twitter.com/bu96ALQsOL— Jess Phillips MP (@jessphillips) April 8, 2017
The English Defence League, a far-right protest movement, held a protest in Birmingham, England on April 8. The U.K.-based group stands against what they see as a rise in Islamism and Sharia Law in Britain. Their latest protest was a response to the Westminster attack in London last month. The man responsible for that attack, 52 year-old Khalid Masood, lived in Birmingham.
During the protest a picture was taken of Saffiyah Khan, from Birmingham, confronting EDL leader Ian Crossland. A picture of their moment together has gone viral with thousands sharing photographer Joe Giddens's image.
So much love for this. Second photo of Saffiyah Khan staring down the EDL with a smile is even better. Solidarity, sister 👊👊👊👊✊✊✊✊ pic.twitter.com/jbz9ZmXWWQ— David Lammy (@DavidLammy) April 9, 2017
her name is saffiyah khan. iconic embodiment of both young modern britain and the entire concept of "u mad?" pic.twitter.com/xApkobsltb— Kurta Cobain (@ElSangito) April 9, 2017
Speaking to Buzzfeed News, Khan explained that she was defending a woman she saw being surrounded by demonstrators. "I ended up going to the EDL demo because there is a history of harassment and assault of Muslims, vulnerable members of the public, and people of color at the demos and outside of it."
She added: "I went with the intent of showing support for anyone who was assaulted or harassed by them."
In a separate interview with the Birmingham Mail, Khan recalled how the moment played out. “Nothing was really happening until a woman in a headscarf started shouting ‘racist,’" she said. "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. 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 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."
Khan later told The Guardian that she was “quite surprised” by the reaction to the photo.