WOMEN

Women Who Confronted White Supremacists Together Reunite After Rally

"It is very important to have solidarity and to show that if something happens to this person they’re not on their own.”
Saffiyah Khan & Saira Zafar. 
Saffiyah Khan & Saira Zafar. 

On Saturday, Saffiyah Khan stepped into the center of an English Defense League rally in Birmingham, England, to support a counter-protestor wearing a hijab. The image of Khan facing off with an angry white supremacist, went viral over the weekend, with thousands on social media admiring her cool, smiling demeanor in the middle of a tense situation. 

File photo dated 08/04/17 of Saffiyah Khan (left) staring down English Defence League (EDL) protester Ian Crossland during a
File photo dated 08/04/17 of Saffiyah Khan (left) staring down English Defence League (EDL) protester Ian Crossland during a demonstration in Birmingham, as she has said she was "not scared in the slightest" during the tense confrontation.

On Monday, Khan finally met up with Saira Zafar, the Muslim woman she saw being surrounded by protestors.

“I do really appreciate the fact that you did step in,” Zafar told Khan in a Guardian Wires video. “It is very important to have solidarity and to show that if something happens to this person they’re not on their own.” 

Zafar told The Guardian that she was attending a protest countering the EDL message. The EDL is a far-right, anti-Islam and anti-immigrant group.

Zafar said she was holding a sign that read, “No to Islamophobia, No to War.” The Muslim woman, who was born in England, said that she was subjected to a “horrific” racist response, with people telling her that she isn’t English, and that England is supposed to be a Christian country. 

Zafar also said that some protestors began shoving EDL signs and flags close to her face, and grouped around her in a circle. 

That’s when Khan and a few other counter-protestors decided to intervene. 

“I wasn’t going to let someone who was speaking the truth and being replied to aggressively be put in that position. You didn’t look like you wanted to be there and I have an intrinsic problem with that,” Khan told The Guardian.

During that altercation, Khan came face to face with EDL member Ian Crossland. Press Association photographer Joe Giddens captured that moment in the viral photo.

Khan cooly kept her hands in her pockets and stared Crossland down.

“I wasn’t scared in the slightest,” Khan told The Mirror. “I stay pretty calm in these situations. I knew they were trying to provoke me, but I wasn’t going to be provoked.”

Since the protest, EDL members have claimed on Twitter that a scuffle broke out after counter-protestors disrupted a moment of silence for victims of terror attacks.

In an interview with the BBC, Khan said the claim was “an attempt at a smear because the story is in my favor.”

Zafar said that the support she received from other counter-protestors showed “solidarity for humanity.”

“Together we defeated the EDL, I would say, at that rally,” Zafar told Khan.

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