The image, capturing a young woman's bemusement during a tense exchange at an EDL rally, has been seen and shared thousands of times over the weekend

Image credit: PA/Joe Giddens

After being picked up by a number of voices as a symbol of Birmingham’s rejection of far-right ideologies and the English Defence League (EDL), the eye-catching photograph has made the rounds on social media across the nation.

Captured during an aggressive exchange with Ian Crossland – leader of the EDL – at one of their protests by PA photographer Joe Giddens, a young woman appears to fix Crossland with a defiant and unfazed smile amid the chaos of the demonstration. She has since been identified as Birmingham resident Saffiyah Khan. Speaking after the incident, she said that she had stepped up in order to defend a woman in a hijab from abuse by the group. She recalled: “He was pointing his finger in my face, but I just stood there. I didn’t do anything, I wasn’t interested, that wasn’t my intention.”

Embarrassingly for the far-right group, a number of sources, including their former leader Tommy Robinson, have tweeted in confirmation of her version of events, despite its attempts to derail her account with allegations that she broke a minute’s silence for the British victims of the Stockholm and Westminster terror attacks.

Khan herself said she was surprised by the viral reaction to the image. “I don’t like seeing people getting ganged up on in my town,” she told the BBC.

The photograph was tweeted in support by Birmingham MP Jess Phillips, “Who looks like they have power here, the real Brummy on the left or the EDL who migrated for the day to our city and failed to assimilate?” At the time of writing, her tweet has over 19,000 likes and 10,000 retweets.

The shot was also praised by Piers Morgan on Good Morning Britain as ‘Photo of the Week’.