Two Muslim brothers were attacked and beaten close to their home in east London after a march by the racist English Defence League (EDL) last Saturday.
Aftab, one of the brothers, told Socialist Worker, “We were walking home when we spotted the EDL march. The next minute someone starts shouting at us ‘Muslim bombers off our streets’.
“Suddenly everything changed. I was pushed and five men attacked me—I was punched.
“I could see a much larger group of between 30 and 50 of them surrounding my brother.
“He was on the floor. They were kicking him and punching him all over. He couldn’t move. I was terrified—I didn’t know if he was alive.”
His brother Mohammed says, “I don’t know how long they beat me for—I just remember seeing shoes flying at my face.”
Aftab and Mohammed live near a new Islamic centre in Chadwell Heath in the London borough of Barking & Dagenham.
The centre, set up in a disused butchers, was the target of a protest by around 250 EDL thugs last week. They met in the Rendezvous pub on Chadwell Heath High Road.
Despite a history of violence on EDL protests, they marched without any police escort. The only police presence was a community support officer who arrived late.
Aftab says that passers-by tried to help him while he was being assaulted.
“People were shouting and finally the police came,” he says. “I was put in a police car for over 20 minutes—they told me nothing about my brother.”
Despite the attack, the EDL were allowed to continue marching. No arrests were made.
Scotland Yard’s press office confirmed to Socialist Worker that the attacks are being treating as racially aggravated assault, and that no arrests have been made.
Aftab and Mohammed are worried that some EDL supporters know where they live—and say that their parents and siblings are terrified.
“My mum won’t come out of the house,” says Aftab. “She was begging me not to go out today.
“I woke up at 3am on Sunday morning. There were fireworks going off. I thought it was them attacking our house.”
The brothers are determined to highlight the failure of the government and police to tackle the EDL.
“The police response has been abysmal,” says Aftab. “They took a statement from me but I didn’t get a crime number, and they haven’t spoken to my brother.
“But we are going to fight this. I remember the National Front on the streets in the 1980s.
“We used to be scared of them. It felt like that again on Saturday. That’s why we have to do something.”
Aftab says the Tories are making racism more acceptable.
“Last week the government released its Prevent report about the threat of Islamic terrorism,” he says.
“And look what happened—racists attacked us. The government isn’t helping stop hate crime. It is making it worse.”
Martin Smith from Unite Against Fascism (UAF) told Socialist Worker that activists in Barking & Dagenham are discussing how to respond to the EDL.
He said, “We kicked the British National Party out of Barking & Dagenham council. Now racists want to attack us on the street.
“That is why UAF and United East End is organising a national protest against racism and Islamophobia on Saturday 27 August in Tower Hamlets, east London.
“We won’t let a minority drive us off our streets.”
Susan Aitouaziz is a teacher in Barking & Dagenham. She told Socialist Worker, “This is a very mixed area.
“Trade unionists and anti‑racist campaigners, black and white, stand in solidarity with Muslims to say that the EDL isn’t welcome here.
“The EDL targets Muslims and anyone who opposes them. We have to come together to stop them.”