Some of the town's most prominent people and organisations has signed a joint statement highlighting community cohesion in the town.

The statement has been released in the run-up to the EDL protest in the town on Saturday April 2.

The statement reads: "Islamophobia is as unacceptable as any other form of racism. It divides and weakens our society by making scapegoats of one section of the community.

"Since their inception, wherever the EDL have marched, their supporters have attempted verbal and physical abuse on Asian people, their friends and their

target="_blank">property. This has no place in a civilised society and it has no place in Blackburn.

"In difficult economic times, when jobs are being lost, services cut and communities as a whole suffering, racism only serves to undermine the basic solidarity we all need to have with one another.

"There is also the cost of this march to the local council tax payer to be considered, both in terms of the massive police operation needed because the EDL have a well-earned reputation for thuggish behaviour, on similar marches in other parts of the country, and, the potential loss of trade for town centre businesses.

"The cost to the town will be in the hundreds of thousands of pounds and Blackburn simply cannot afford this expense.

"Our response therefore to the English Defence League presence in our town is to affirm our community values - based on mutual respect, tolerance and unity.

"We do not wish to see our town become the venue for the latest display of EDL intimidation and violence, which is the hallmark of all of their public activity."

On Saturday April 2nd at 1:00pm on Sudell Cross Blackburn, people will to come together under the banner of Blackburn and Darwen United Against Racism.

Please come along and join in our Celebration. There is far more that unites us than divides us.

This statement is supported by • The Bishop of Blackburn – Mr Nicholas Blackburn • Sir Bill Taylor • Michael Hindley former MEP Lancashire East; Leader of Hyndburn Council; Lancashire County Councillor • Kate Hollern Leader of Blackburn with Darwen Borough Council • Councillor Mohammed Khan • Councillor Tony Humphrys • Councillor Pat McFall • Councillor Dave Harling • Councillor Jim Shorrock • Peter Billington Lancashire TUC • Shaukat Hussain Labour Party Local Government Committee Chairman • Karen Narramore Secretary UNISON East Lancs Branch • Peter Dales UNISON East Lancashire Health Branch Chairman • Simon Jones Secretary Blackburn with Darwen National Union of Teachers • Paul Hogan Assistant Secretary Blackburn with Darwen National Union of Teachers • Liz Beaumont Natiuonal Union of Teachers • Cath Ford Independent local artist • Maurice Ffelan • Tom Howard • Anne Davies Hospital Volunteer • Anjum Anwar Director of Womens Voice • Phil Riley Secretary Blackburn Labour Party • Adil Babar UNISON • Dave Fleming • Tricia Gleave University & College Union Blackburn College Safety Rep • Colin Crabtree University & College Union Union Blackburn College Rep • Craig Hammond University & College Union Blackburn Branch Chairman • Ashley Whalley University & College Union Blackburn Branch Secretary • Alan McShane University & College Union Blackburn College Senior Safety Rep • John Murphy University & College Union Blackburn College Vice-Chairman • Councillor Salim Sidat • Councillor Andy Kay • Councillor Faryad Hussain • Councillor Abdul Samad Patel • Councillor Maureen Bateson • Councillor Eileen Entwistle • Councillor Naushad Surve • Councillor Mike Johnson • Hansa Canon UNISON Black Members Officer • Pat Maudsley Blackburn Labour Party • Frances Bradley Senior UNISON Steward • Dave Bradley UNISON Steward • Ian Gallagher Blackburn & District TUC • Gareth Roscoe BwDBC Local Government Branch Secretary • Dee Shuttleworth Unison Branch Administrator/Steward

Arim Rafique Equality Officer Blackburn College • Marin McAreavey University & College Union Rep • Frank Davis UNITE Senior Union Rep at Crown Paints • Bob Wellham UNITE Senior Union Rep at Crown Paints • Doug Kelly University & College Union Safety Rep at Blackburn College • Lancashire Council of Mosques (LCM)• Councillor David Foster Leader of the Liberal Democrats in Blackburn & Darwen • Councillor Karimeh Foster Liberal Democratic Party • Sajid Ali - member of the Liberal Democrats.