'Defiant' Woman Grins Down Far-Right Protester

Saffiyah Khan did not give a whit when English Defence League leader got cranky
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Apr 10, 2017 9:03 AM CDT
Updated Apr 15, 2017 5:24 PM CDT
'Defiant' Woman Grins Down Far-Right Protester
Saffiyah's stare-down.   (Twitter" target="_blank">Twitter)

Around 100 demonstrators representing a far-right UK group gathered Saturday in Birmingham, provoking a presence by law enforcement, counter-protesters, and a photo that's now being shared worldwide. The Guardian reports on the viral image, which was taken when local Saffiyah Khan noticed some English Defence League protesters circling a woman in a hijab and decided to intervene. "I don't like seeing people getting ganged up on in my town," she says. Per BuzzFeed, which notes the protest was railing against last month's London terror attack, Press Association photographer Joe Giddens then snapped a picture of Khan squaring off with a man in an EDL T-shirt, with a police officer appearing to hold him at bay while Khan stared him straight in the eye with a smile.

BuzzFeed identifies that man as Ian Crossland, a leader of the group that a Labour MP once called a "dangerous cocktail of football hooligans, far-right activists, and pub racists" for its anti-Muslim rhetoric and often-violent actions, per a 2011 New Yorker article. Khan, who tells BuzzFeed she hails from a Muslim background, says Crossland shoved his finger in her face, but she didn't care. "I didn't feel threatened in the slightest way," she shrugs. Reaction to her stare-down has earned her praise of "amazing," "big respect," and "the most perfect response to EDL hatred; calm, somewhat nonchalant, defiant, and smiling." Giddens himself seems taken aback by the attention given to his handiwork, tweeting, "Sometimes in this job you take a picture and instantly know it'll be popular ... that wasn't the case this weekend!" (Would-be terrorists actually went after the EDL in 2013.)

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