Anti-racists are determined to stage a united and defiant show of strength against the racist English Defence League (EDL) in Luton this Saturday 5 February.
The EDL wants to spark a racist riot with its protest in the town.
But Unite Against Fascism (UAF) has called a counter-protest, which is gaining unprecedented support.
Nine trades councils, more than ten trade union branches and the eastern regional bodies of the Unite, PCS, and CWU unions are backing the UAF demonstration.
A number of councillors, East of England MEP Richard Howitt and several trade union branch officers are also supporting it.
UAF has agreed to hold two events—a protest in the city centre and a solidarity protest in defence of Bury Park, the area where the majority of Luton’s Asian community live.
People are disgusted that the police are allowing the EDL to hold its racist rally in St George’s Square, at the heart of the town.
“We are opposed to these fascist thugs bringing their hatred to Luton,” Paul Moffat, the CWU Eastern Region secretary, told Socialist Worker.
“They want to use racism to intimidate, threaten and divide our communities.
“It is a disgrace that the police see fit to allow them to hold a demonstration in St George’s Square, which is used by all the communities.”
Luton council supported UAF’s request to hold its own protest in St George’s Square, despite police pressure.
Hussain, who has lived in Luton for over 40 years, told Socialist Worker that people “refused to be intimidated” by the EDL.
“People are determined to carry on with their lives on the day.”
Hussain has been helping to mobilise for the UAF protests.
He is shocked about the misinformation given out by the police. “I’ve been visiting local shops in Bury Park and surrounding areas,” said Hussain.
“Shopkeepers say that community police are telling them to be wary of Pakistani youth—that they will smash things up on the day.
“One shopkeeper was told not to put his goods out.
“It is disgusting. Young people won’t be damaging goods and attacking shops—they live here, they use these shops. It seems that EDL members can do what they want, while the police come down hard on anti-racists and the Asian community.”
Hussain believes that young Asian people should join the protests on Saturday.
He said, “Asian youth see themselves as British, as being part of society. I lived here in the 1960s and 1970s and we had a tough time from racists.
“It is different today. But we had to fight for what we have achieved.
“We have to stand with the people of Bury Park defending the community and be in the town centre because anti-racists represent the majority view in Luton.”
The national media and the EDL like to paint Luton as a town divided by racial tension.
But Bob Baker, a youth and community development officer who lives in Luton, told Socialist Worker that these ideas are “mainly based on fears and scapegoating”.
“The biggest danger we face is that the EDL’s presence will encourage communities to turn on one another,” Bob said.
“We have to bridge the divisions that do exist and make sure they don’t increase.
“It it is important and our right to stand together as one community. That should be seen as a positive thing.”
The EDL was born in Luton in March 2009. Now the EDL say it is going back to where it all began.
Every anti-racist should get to Luton to attempt to stop it.
Paul Moffatt said, “The streets of Luton belong to all of us and we will not put up with the EDL. Please join us at our protest on Saturday.”
Stop the EDL No to racism
12 noon, Park Square, Luton, Saturday 5 February
Go to www.uaf.org.uk for transport details