‘The EDL isn’t welcome in Bradford. We need a counter-protest’
Mahmoona Begum, Student, Bradford
“The English Defence League is targeting Bradford because there’s a strong Muslim community here. They want to spread lies about Muslims.
There should be a counter‑protest. There shouldn’t be an EDL demo in the first place. The government ought to stop it. But I don’t think they will.
Some people worry that there will be a riot. The best way to stop that is if lots of people turn out against the EDL. That’s why I plan to go to the counter-protest.”
‘The racists must be confronted, both in ideas and in the streets’
Tariq Mehmood, Author and activist
“There is little in the argument that we should not hold a counter‑demonstration against the racist EDL’s plan to march in Bradford that has not been put in the past.
“During the 1970s fascist thugs used to go “Paki-bashing” in Bradford, and many other cities. But in 1976 we challenged the National Front (NF) presence in the predominantly Asian Manningham area of the city.
The notables and the liberals held a demonstration in the city centre—well away from where the real threat was. The youth broke away from their protest and the streets of Manningham became a battleground, with the police defending the NF.
A similar picture existed across Britain, and even rumours of fascists coming to town would result in mass mobilisations. In all cases, resistance was not sanctioned from above; it was the logical outcome of the struggle against injustice.
Today, there is a similar need for resistance. After all, when did the oppressor ever go away because those it attacks have turned their backs?
The EDL is riding on an anti-Islamic wave—a set of racist ideas that are a necessary component of the ‘war on terror’. The EDL must be confronted, both in ideas and a battle for the streets. If the streets are lost, we will never win the battle of ideas.
Some are saying that the Bradford Riots of 2001 are proof that any protest will end in disarray.
The logic of this argument would be never to have a protest about anything. It’s good to remember it was not the youth that sent themselves to prison for years simply for throwing a rock—it was the same state machine that some now say we should rely on to defend our communities.
The lesson of Bradford, and many other cities, is that our only guarantee of protection from racist gangs lies in self-defence. That’s why the demonstration against the EDL must go ahead—and it should be as broad and united as possible.”
Tariq Mehmood is a longstanding activist and author. He was one of the Bradford 12, a group arrested on charges of terrorism in 1981 after defending the city against racist gangs. All the defendants were acquitted
“We are Bradford” unity event
Bradford, 28 August
Called by Bradford UAF
Backed by CWU, PCS, TSSA, UCU unions nationally
For more go to www.uaf.org.uk