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‘Silence is violence’: We spoke to the Durham students counter-protesting the EDL

‘These attitudes went out with Hitler, and for some reason they’re surfacing again.’

Hundreds of people gathered outside the Gala Theatre yesterday afternoon to hold a counter-demo against the English Defence League (EDL) and Bishop Auckland Against Islam. These groups were protesting the fact that Syrian refugees have been given housing in County Durham, and took to the streets to voice their views.

The counter-protesters made speeches about the importance of tolerance, as well as singing songs and chants and waving banners. The demonstrations were held in Millennium Square and lasted for around an hour.

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The far right extremist groups leaving for the train station

We spoke to some of the students at the counter protest, and here's what they had to say:

Clara, 1st year

"They need to know that they are wrong. If we don't do anything, how can we expect things to change?"

Rosie (right), 3rd year

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"As a History student, I understand the historical importance of counter-demonstrations. Silence is violence, because ignoring an issue doesn't make it go away. It's our duty to help."

Simon, Phil and Tom, all 1st years 

"Put simply, this stuff can't be allowed to carry on. These attitudes went out with Hitler, and for some reason they're surfacing again. My conscience tells me that it's our duty to make sure that this doesn't happen anymore, especially because so many of our friends are International students. We need to fight back."

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There was a barricade of police between the two protesting sides

Josh, 2nd year

"The fact that people still hold racist views is just wrong. They shouldn't be allowed to get away with their hate crimes and they certainly shouldn't be allowed to stand on our streets and shout abuse."

Daniel Kebede, one of the leaders of the counter-protest

"We need to disrupt what they're doing, and that means organising counter-protests like this. We need to make sure that they aren't heard and that for every time they voice their opinion, ours is voiced louder."