Preparations are under way to bring the biggest possible turnout onto the streets to stop a march by the racist English Defend League (EDL) next Saturday.
The thugs want to parade through Tower Hamlets in east London—but will face united resistance.
“A lot of people are ready to come out to defend their community,” said Ali, a restaurant worker on Brick Lane.
He marched with thousands of others last year after a similar threat from the EDL to spread their hate in Tower Hamlets.
“Last year the EDL didn’t turn up, but lots of local people came out anyway,” said Ali.
“This time we’re going to have more numbers. We’re a peaceful community. We don’t want them to come here and cause problems.”
Close to 40 coaches have been booked to bring anti-racists to London for the counter-demonstration, called by Unite Against Fascism (UAF) and the United East End coalition of community groups.
Richard Rose from Cambridge UAF told Socialist Worker, “We’ll have at least one coach going to London. “We’ve had a good reception, and expect more people to book up.
“We’ve built for the protest through stalls in town and at the mosque, and used contact lists from last month’s 2,000-strong march against the EDL in Cambridge.
“House-to-house leafleting has also got results.”
In east London there is a growing mood of resistance.
Tower Hamlets is one of the most multicultural areas of the country. Throughout its history it has been the scene of many decisive battles against the far right.
Around 60 UAF campaigners handed out thousands of leaflets on Brick Lane last Sunday.
They got a great reception, and the vast majority of shops and stalls on the road took posters to advertise the anti-fascist demonstration.
One young Muslim who took a handful of leaflets and posters told Socialist Worker, “If the EDL come here, they’re going to get their arses kicked. Everyone will come out to stop them.”
Glyn Robbins, chair of United East End, said at a press conference at Tower Hamlets council last week, “We have no choice but to take to the streets to demonstrate our unity.
“We won’t allow the EDL to spread their poisonous message.”
The press conference was called by the mayor of Tower Hamlets, Lutfur Rahman, who spoke in support of the counter-protest.
“If we stay at home we’re leaving young people on the streets by themselves,” said Lutfur.
“It’s important we argue for something positive.”
The EDL want to march down Whitechapel Road past the East London Mosque.
Previous EDL marches have brought racist attacks on mosques and Asian shops.
This has led many local people to call for the EDL march to be banned.
But even if a ban were enforced, this would not prevent the EDL from holding a static protest.
And the danger is it may also lead to the anti-EDL march being banned.
Some have gone further, and told local people to stay at home when the EDL come to town.
But this would be a disaster. It would prevent people from taking an active part in defending their community.
Instead of showing the strength of a united response to the EDL, people would be expected to be prisoners in their own homes.
Weyman Bennett, UAF joint chair, told Socialist Worker, “It’s vital we march in our thousands against the fascist EDL.
“We stand in the tradition of the anti-fascists of Cable Street in 1936. This is the only way to keep fascism off our streets and to break their racist agenda.”
Demonstrate Saturday 3 September. Assemble 11am, Weavers Fields, Bethnal Green, London E2 6HW. For details of transport and publicity go to www.uaf.org.uk