A viral photograph of a young woman smiling as she confronted the leader of the English Defence League (EDL) has become a symbol of resistance against the far-right. In the photo, Saffiyah Khan is seen standing up to EDL leader Ian Crossland during the far-right group’s demo in Birmingham on Saturday.
Moments before the photo was taken — by Press Association photographer Joe Giddens — Khan had stepped in when members of the EDL surrounded a young Muslim woman.
Days after the photo was taken, Khan has met woman she defended, Saira Zafar, for the first time, and the two shared an embrace in a video by the Guardian.
Zafar explains that she had planned to stand towards the back carrying a placard stating “no to Islamophobia, no to war.” But, EDL members at the rally began shouting racist abuse at her, like “you don’t belong in this country” and “go back to where you came from.” People also placed Islamophobic banners and EDL flags over her face and head. In the video, she thanked Khan for stepping in.
“It’s very important to have solidarity and to show that if something happens to this person, they’re not on their own,” says Zafar.