Socialist Worker

Staying vigilant against the fascists in Stoke

by Anindya Bhattacharyya
Issue No. 2111

The fascist British National Party (BNP) has called off its planned national rally in Stoke-on-Trent on 9 August. But anti-Nazi activists are remaining on the alert in case the BNP hold their Muslim-bashing event in the city later that month.

BNP leader Nick Griffin had vowed to use Stoke as a launching pad for a campaign against Muslims to coincide with the sentencing of Habib Khan, who was convicted earlier this year of the manslaughter of Nazi thug Keith Brown.

Habib Khan’s sentencing has now been delayed to 29 August, prompting fears that the fascists may hold their rally on that date instead. They plan to bring in Nazis from around to country and tour estates where they have a presence.

If the BNP do mobilise in Stoke, local anti-Nazi campaigners will call a protest against them. Unite Against Fascism is also holding a day of action against the BNP in Stoke this Saturday 26 July.

Some people on the left have described Brown’s death as “tragic” and tried to present him as a victim of “knife crime”. But Brown does not deserve an ounce of sympathy from anyone.

He was a BNP activist who subjected Khan, his neighbour, to a four-year campaign of racist abuse and violence.

Brown died on 6 July last year during a scuffle with Khan and his son Azir Saqqidue. Khan says Brown attacked Azir outside their home. He went to his son’s aid carrying a kitchen knife – which Brown backed on to, wounding him fatally.

Last May a jury cleared Khan of murder, finding him guilty of manslaughter by reason of lack of intent. But the BNP is pressing ahead with its plans to present Brown as a “white martyr” and a “victim of Islamic jihad against Great Britain”.

Michael Coleman, the BNP’s organiser in Stoke and one of its nine councillors, reacted to Khan being cleared of murder by telling reporters, “We advise anyone who gets angry to get involved with the BNP.”

Ever since 9/11 the BNP has exploited the climate of officially sanctioned Islamophobia to mount a “crusade” against Islam. It is vital that everyone on the left recognises this as racism. We need to unite in defence of Muslims and in opposition to the fascist threat.

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Article information

Tue 22 Jul 2008, 19:22 BST
Issue No. 2111
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