Socialist Worker

Peterborough protesters drive back EDL racists

by Richard Rose and Viv Smith
Issue No. 2232

Protesters in Peterborough confront the racist English Defence League (Pic: Kelvin Williams)

Protesters in Peterborough confront the racist English Defence League (Pic: Kelvin Williams)


The tables were turned on the racist English Defence League (EDL) in Peterborough last Saturday, 11 December.

Some 500 anti-racists took part in a counter-protest against the EDL, organised by Peterborough trades council and Unite Against Fascism (UAF).

Hundreds of young Asian people joined the counter-protest, arriving as racist thugs attempted to attack the rally—and together anti-racists managed to drive back the EDL.

And despite pressure to remain off the streets, up to 1,000 Muslims came out to defend their mosques and community.

The EDL had threatened to bring 4,000 thugs to the city, but only managed around 500.

A significant number of local trade unionists—from the NUT, Unison, FBU, UCU, PCS and NASUWT unions—joined the counter-protest.

Trades council president Ron Graves said that the day was “a victory for anti-fascists.

“The dregs of the EDL have had to slope off home while we have stood here united and faced them down.”

But he added that the march and rally would have been bigger had there not been obstructions from the council and police.

Victory

Ash Rajvi, a local Muslim PCS activist, said that he was disappointed by pressure police put on Muslims to stay away.

Phillipe Harari of Cambridgeshire NUT said his members were “opposed to all forms of discrimination, exclusion and racism”. PCS rep Carol Gerrard said, “We don’t need the likes of the EDL in this country or in this town. The sooner people accept we live in a multicultural society the better.”

Richard Howitt, Labour MEP for the East of England, said, “I am sickened by the sight of British National Party MEPs in the European parliament, and I am determined that the EDL and their vile cohort should not be allowed to spread their views in our community.”

Martin Booth, chair of Cambridge Health Unison and Cambridgeshire Against the Cuts, and Bob Cossey-Mowle from the National Pensioners Convention, said that racist groups can use despair caused by the recession to grow. That means that it is vital to build an alternative to the cuts.

EDL supporters were photographed making Nazi salutes (see picture).

Their leader Stephen Yaxley Lennon (also known as Tommy Robinson) attacked Muslims in his speech.

And he also called protesting students “dirty, stinking layabouts”. He promised that the EDL would help protect the police at the next anti-fees demonstration.

Some 11 people were arrested on the EDL protest—two people for possessing an offensive weapon, two on suspicion of assaulting police officers, two for affray and a further five for minor public order offences.

Although anti-racists drove the EDL back in Peterborough, they are far from going away, and wherever they protest, racial tensions increase.

Taunted

The Mondair family from Peterborough told protesters how their children have been taunted and abused at school in the run-up to the EDL march.

This should act as a warning to the movement—it is vital to build UAF groups in every town and city across Britain.

It is also important that every anti-racist and anti-fascist activist joins the UAF national protest against the EDL when they plan to return to Luton on 5 February.

The EDL was formed after a protest by racists in Luton in 2009 when hundreds of masked thugs went on the rampage attacking Asian residents and shops, trying to spread fear and intimidation.

The EDL have been forced to rescind an invitation to Terry Jones—the racist and homophobic US pastor who sparked international outrage with plans to burn the Quran—to Luton.

Coaches are booked to take people from across Britain to the protest against the EDL—everyone who opposes its agenda of race hatred should be there.

For more details of the Luton protest go to Unite Against Fascism’s website at www.uaf.org.uk

EDL supporters’ familiar salute

EDL supporters’ familiar salute



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Article information

News
Tue 14 Dec 2010, 17:30 GMT
Issue No. 2232
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