Activists are ready for a huge march to confront the English Defence League (EDL) when it tries to come to east London on 3 September.
That was the clear message as some 600 people crammed into the London Muslim Centre in east London for a rally against the racists on Friday of last week.
The meeting was organised by Unite Against Fascism (UAF) and United East End.
Roses were handed out to people as they came into the room and held aloft during a minute’s silence in solidarity with the people of Norway.
Three trade unionists and socialists travelled from Norway to address the meeting. They got huge applause.
Randi, a public sector worker, told the meeting, “People immediately tried to blame Islam for the attacks in Norway. This attack is an attack on us all—the working class and the labour movement.”
The speakers on the platform reflected the meeting itself.
There were experienced and first time activists, Muslims, Jews, Christians and socialists, LGBT people, disabled people and others.
Former London mayor Ken Livingstone said, “Londoners came together 75 years ago to stop the fascists in what was then a predominantly Jewish area.
“We must come together to stop their successors now.”
Leon Silver, from the local Nelson Street Synagogue, was defiant.
“The fascists don’t get it,” he said. “We are united in our diversity and mutual respect.”
Tazmin Ali, a school student in the borough, added, “Growing up in Tower Hamlets, I’ve never faced major racism. People here are accepting of other people.”
Rebecca Shaw from the LGBT group Rainbow Hamlets, which works closely with the East London mosque, told the meeting, “I say to the EDL: LGBT people may be part of your agenda—but you are not part of ours.”
While a number of speakers spoke in favour of banning the EDL march, everyone agreed to march against the EDL.
Socialist Worker says we must confront fascism on the streets, not rely on the state Why a state ban won’t weaken racist groups.
Martin Smith from UAF and Love Music Hate Racism agrees. He said, “They say Breivik is the devil’s spawn. But where did that spawn grow?
“In Angela Merkel’s attack on multiculturalism, in Sarkozy banning the veil in France, and when David Cameron said Muslims have failed to integrate here.
“I don’t want to upset the meeting—but I don’t trust Theresa May.”
Omer Ahmed from the Council of Somali Organisations, said, “Somali immigrants have been fighting racists since the race riots of 1919.
“It is outrageous that the prime minister has not said a word about this EDL march.”
Adrian Newman, Bishop of Stepney, added, “Martin Luther King said, ‘Our lives begin to end when we stay silent about things that matter’. This matters.”
The EDL must be confronted on 3 September, and not be allowed to rampage through the heart of the East End.
National demonstration against the racist EDL: Assemble from 11am at Weavers Fields, Bethnal Green, London, E2 6HW. Go to www.uaf.org.uk for transport details.