A young woman heralded for staring down an English Defence League (EDL) activist at a rally by the far-right group has said she was “not scared in the slightest” during the tense confrontation.
Saffiyah Khan came to symbolise resistance to the rally, held in Birmingham on Saturday, after an image of her appearing to smile at EDL leader Ian Crossland went viral.
The image, taken by Press Association photographer Joe Giddens, was shared across social media and attracted comments from the likes of Birmingham Yardley MP Jess Phillips, while Good Morning Britain host Piers Morgan described it as “photo of the week”.
But despite the obvious tension between the two people in the picture, Ms Khan told the Mirror she kept calm throughout.
She said: “(The EDL supporter) was poking his finger in my face, but I just stood there. I didn’t do anything, I wasn’t interested, that wasn’t my intention.
“I couldn’t understand what was being said though to be honest, it was all very mumbled. But I wasn’t scared in the slightest. I stay pretty calm in these situations.
This young woman faced down the hate-filled fascists of the EDL with courage and class. This is what heroism looks like. pic.twitter.com/EFwMK8Vyub— George Galloway (@georgegalloway) April 9, 2017
“I knew they were trying to provoke me, but I wasn’t going to be provoked. I didn’t realise how many people would be so supportive, so it was worth it.”
The EDL rally in Centenary Square attracted about 100 supporters and passed without any major disorder, police said.
West Midlands Police said two people, thought to be counter-protesters, had been arrested for alleged breaches of the peace.