AN ANTI-RACISM rally will be held in Otley this week.

Local community groups, businesses and politicians are all backing the event which takes place in the Market Square from 6pm to 7pm on Thursday, March 21.

Organisers Otley Welcomes say it has been arranged in response to a number of concerns that have been raised about recent incidences of racist language being used in the town.

The rally will feature speakers from Stand Up to Racism and other organisations along with Town Mayor Councillor Mary Vickers and Reverend Jimmy Lawrence, from Otley Parish Church.

It will tie in with Thursday - March 21 - being the International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination, an annual event which marks the day in 1960 when 69 people were killed in Sharpville, South Africa, while peacefully protesting against apartheid.

The rally will end with two minutes of silence to remember those who died at Sharpville and the 50 people who were killed in a terrorist attack on mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand on Friday, March 15. Those attending are asked to bring a candle.

Town Councillor Linda Hoare (Lib Dem, West Chevin) said: “In these uncertain times it is more important than ever to support values of liberty, equality and community.”

An Otley and Yeadon Labour Party spokesman said: “We support Otley Welcomes and its event to stand against racism. We also stand together with Christchurch against the far right’s attack on innocent Muslims.”

Otley Welcomes says it has been heartened by the ‘huge number’ of organisations, churches, firms, political parties and residents who have voiced support for the rally. They include Otley Community Land Trust, Otley Churches Together, Otley BID and Flock of Needles.