Meet Saffiya Khan who defended a Muslim woman from UK extremist group

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A photo showing a woman smiling in the face of a member of the extremist far-right group England Defense League (EDL) during a demonstration in the UK went viral this week, grabbing headlines in British media.

It later emerged that the image was of Saffiyah Khan, who had intervened to defend a Muslim woman who had been circled by the demonstrators and was being shouted at in Birmingham’s city center.


Ian Crossland and other EDL protestors were verbally harassing Saira Zafar when Khan, who is of Bosnia and Pakistan decent, stepped in. But rather than shouting or looking afraid, she simply smiled at the man who was yelling abuse.

The EDL demonstration attracted a large crowd and was condemned by the Labour, Liberal Democrat and Conservative leaders of Birmingham city council, who said the group was ‘not and never would be welcome in their city’.

Zafar, 24, attended the demonstration “to show that [the EDL’s message] is not acceptable” when she was cornered by the far-right protesters shouting at her: ‘You’re not English,’ ‘this is a Christian country, not your country,’ and ‘go back to where you came from.’

The journalist and television host Piers Morgan hailed the picture the “photo of the week” and shared it on social media with the caption: “Enraged EDL racist stared down by amused, contemptuous Asian woman.”

The EDL is a far-right extremist movement against Islam in the UK as they believe is “challenges an English, Christian way of life.”

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