Socialist Worker

Anti-racists stand up to EDL in Birmingham

Issue No. 2275

The racist English Defence League (EDL) suffered a disastrous day this weekend, on Saturday.

It had planned to demonstrate in the centre of Birmingham in its last “big one” of 2011. But only 300 EDL supporters turned up, to throw beer bottles and fireworks at police and each other in frustration.

Up to a thousand people joined the counter rally, organised by United Birmingham and supported by Unite Against Fascism, in the city centre.

Once again the EDL were outnumbered by anti-racists.

Roger McKenzie, assistant general secretary of the Unison union said, “Whenever anyone tries to spread racism and pit worker against worker, community against community, we have to draw a line in the sand.

“When we stand together in solidarity there’s not a force on earth that can stop us.”

United Birmingham is a coalition set up after the August riots when sections of the media played up tensions between Birmingham’s different ethnic groups.

Most of the protesters were local people determined to defend their multicultural city. “Birmingham is a testament to how people of different races and cultures can live in harmony,” Jake Hall told Socialist Worker. “It’s great we can all stand together against the bigots on the EDL demo.”

Young people came in large groups from the surrounding areas. Asif Hussain told Socialist Worker, “I’m protesting here to show the EDL they can’t just do what they want. We want to represent our city.”

Many were alienated by the politics of some of the speakers who warned protesters not to get angry, and not to rise to the EDL’s provocation.

But the mood to take on the EDL was shown by the positive response that Martin Smith, speaking on behalf of Love Music Hate Racism received when he called for the need for more determined resistance.

Martin said, “I don’t feel like dancing and singing today.

“There are a bunch of Nazis and racists marching over there. In this economic crisis, the stormclouds of fascism are brewing all over Europe. We need to stand up.

“The next time the EDL come to Birmingham, this won’t be good enough. I was in Tower Hamlets last month, when thousands of people stood up on the streets and stopped the EDL from marching. This is what we need to do—this is how you stop fascism.”

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Sun 30 Oct 2011, 20:04 GMT
Issue No. 2275
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