Socialist Worker

Don’t let racists rampage in Luton

by Viv Smith
Issue No. 2235

The racist English Defence League is mobilising to get racist thugs to descend on Luton on Saturday 5 February—the place where the group was set up in 2009.

Its video for Luton, titled “Back where it all began”, is set to a soundtrack that repeatedly rages, “We are your nightmares.”

But momentum is growing for the Unite Against Fascism (UAF) national protest against its mobilisation.

There will be two UAF protests on the day.

The main demonstration is in St George’s Square in the town centre at 12 noon, and some people will be asked to go to another in Bury Park at the heart of Luton’s Muslim community.

Dave Barnes from Three Counties UAF told Socialist Worker, “Black, white and Asian people will stand shoulder to shoulder to defend our community in Bury Park—we won’t let the racists divide us.

“But we also want to be in the city centre to show the multicultural face of Luton.”

UAF activists were out leafleting and building support for the counter-protest last weekend.

A stall in Bury Park on Sunday was lively. Throughout the afternoon people stopped to talk about the protest, even jumping out of their cars to grab leaflets.

Stall

“I work at in the city centre, near where the EDL are marching to,” a young woman wearing a hijab said as she stopped at the stall to sign the petition against the EDL.

“Our management have refused to give us extra security on the day of the protest.

“The propaganda the EDL uses about the ‘Islamification’ of Britain is based on lies and fear, but some people buy into it.”

Another young woman agreed. “The media make it worse—like saying last week that there is a problem with all Pakistani men because a few were found guilty of abusing white girls.

“These lies give the EDL confidence.”

Everyone thought that people should take to the streets against the EDL.

“We have every right to defend Bury Park,” Yasmin told Socialist Worker. “All the mosques are saying people should stay at home, but lots of us will be out on the street.”

A family stopped to take a leaflet and thank UAF activists.

“The EDL is divisive,” Ali told Socialist Worker. “When it first came to Luton I read its forums to see what they were about—it is full of hatred and racism.

“It’s great to see the support we are getting. We have to stand together.”

A sixth form college worker said, “Lots of students are talking about the EDL march. Many will join the counter-protest despite the college telling them to stay home.”

EDL supporters tried to get a UAF stall shut down on Saturday in Luton city centre. They called the police, saying that they found the material being distributed offensive. Activists held their ground and refused to move.

Determined

Anti-racists are far from deterred by the EDL. “If anything, EDL supporters showing their faces makes us even more determined to build the biggest possible resistance,” said Dave.

The Southern and Eastern Region of the TUC has become the latest organisation to add its name to support the UAF counter‑protest.

“A number of other trades councils, as well as trade union branches and regions, have also backed it.

Everyone who is able to should come to Luton to challenge the EDL on 5 February.

For details of transport go to www.uaf.org.uk. Transport leaves London from York Way, next to King’s Cross station, at 10.30am on Saturday 5 February. Tickets £6.50


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Article information

News
Tue 18 Jan 2011, 18:01 GMT
Issue No. 2235
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