Socialist Worker

Respect Festival

Issue No. 1770

Saturday 20 October, Werneth Park, Oldham

Carnival against the Nazis Called by Oldham United Against Racism. Supported by North West Region TUC, ANL, local NUT, Greater Manchester FBU Region Five, PCS, TGWU and UNISON

PEOPLE FROM across the north west of England are coming to a major anti-racist festival in Oldham next Saturday, 20 October. The festival was called in response to the alarming racist attacks that took place before last June's general election, where the Nazi BNP got 16 percent of the vote. The Nazis have tried to exploit the racial tensions they have stirred up in Oldham. They are planning to stand candidates in the council elections in Oldham next May.

But the festival provides a marvellous opportunity to unite black and white people and widen opposition to the Nazis. There is a real excitement in the area about the event. At meetings in Oldham Asian people have said that the community really needs something like this to bring people together at the moment. Local trade unionists have leafleted workplaces in the area.

Health workers and council workers have been out leafleting the shopping areas and high streets. The local National Union of Teachers branch has mailed leaflets about the festival to every school in Oldham. Campaigners have also leafleted Oldham Athletic football matches. Some people were worried that the football fans would be hostile. But Anti Nazi League members and anti-racists were given a warm reception, and the overwhelming majority of fans took and read the leaflets. Students in Oldham and those from nearby Manchester and Salford universities are really up for the event.

The festival features DJs Mr Scruff, Electric Chair, Irfan and Tomlin from Rainy City, Rae (Rae and Christian) and Aim from Grand Central Records and Matt Triggs from Fat City Recordings. A student says, 'Students would save up to see any one of these DJs, so it's brilliant to have them all together at an anti-racist event in one afternoon.' Local trade unionists have been central to building support for the festival. The North West Region TUC is officially backing the festival.

However, some at the top of the trade unions have not built for the festival with the urgency that is needed to defeat the Nazis. That urgency is underlined by the alarming rise in racist attacks which has been sparked by a backlash to the tragedy in the US on 11 September. Asian people, and Muslims in particular, have been singled out by racist and Nazi organisations.

The BNP has gone on the offensive with a campaign to get parents to take their children out of religious education in schools when it covers the ideas of Islam. Racists petrol-bombed and gutted a mosque in Edinburgh on Wednesday of last week. This follows a series of racist attacks, including the petrol-bombing of a mosque in Bolton near Manchester, graffiti and threats of violence. These dreadful attacks make the Respect festival even more crucial.

Everyone should:

Ask their trade union branch to support the event and affiliate to the ANL.

Send donations to back the festival to the ANL.

Back the event.

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Article information

Sat 13 Oct 2001, 00:00 BST
Issue No. 1770
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