Socialist Worker

Leicester stands united against EDL threat on Saturday

Issue No. 2222

Asian, black and white people are uniting against the racist English Defence League (EDL) in Leicester this Saturday. This is still vital, though the EDL have been banned from “marching”.

Unite Against Fascism (UAF) has called a protest in the city centre against the EDL’s plans to march.

More than 150 people packed into a public meeting last Sunday in the heart of Leicester’s Sikh community to discuss the response to the EDL protest.

The Indian Workers Association (IWA) Leicestershire branch called the meeting and it took place in one of the city’s main Gurdwaras (Sikh place of worship).

Sital Singh Gill, general secretary of the IWA, said, “The EDL say they are against the ‘Muslim extremists’, but we know first they will come for the Muslims, then the Sikhs, then the Hindus.

“What right have the EDL to say this isn’t our country?”

Gurjit Dosanjh from Leicester UAF was invited to speak at the meeting.

She called on Sikhs—“men and women, young and old”—to join the UAF counter-protest.

The police representative at the meeting asked people to stay away.

When he asked, “Does the demonstration have to be on the same day?”—the meeting shouted “YES”!

The Gurdwara committee decided to unanimously support the UAF protest.

More than 20 people volunteered to be stewards on the day. Many trade union branches in Leicester have also backed the unity protest.

Anger

Cath Lewis, a local UAF organiser told Socialist Worker, “There is real anger at the EDL coming to Leicester, but there is also a quiet determination to build a big counter-protest.

“We live in a multicultural city with a proud tradition of fighting racism. We will not let the EDL destroy that.”

The police and Leicester City Council have put out a joint leaflet targeting young people in an attempt to stop them from protesting.

The leaflet warns, “If the police see you and think that you may come to some harm they can take you to a place of safety.

“You may be spoken to by social services and will only be released into the care of your parent or carer.”

The police and council seem more concerned with stopping people exercising their right to protest than preventing an EDL riot.

Cath told Socialist Worker, “A youth worker come to one of our meetings to tell us that they have been threatened with the sack if they discussed the protest with young people.

“They were told to be neutral when asked questions about the EDL. That’s a disgrace—how can you be neutral about racist thugs?”

Despite home secretary Theresa May banning any march in Leicester on Saturday, static protests will be allowed—and the EDL have announced their intention to march anyway.

This makes a mockery of those who claim a ban is the way to stop the EDL.

A ban in Bradford did not stop the EDL throwing bricks and bottles or breaking out of police lines to try and attack Asians.

It is vital that anti-racists and anti-fascists are not misled by the calls to stay away or join events on other days as an alternative.

Only the determined presence of anti-racists will defeat these racist thugs.

Assemble 11.30am Saturday 9 October, the Clock Tower, Leicester city centre


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