A loud and confident demonstration against the racist English Defence League (EDL) has set off from Luton’s Wardown Park early this afternoon (Saturday).
Anti-racists, trade unionists, two local MPs and several city councillors are on the march, which was called by Unite Against Fascism (UAF). They are joined by students and other groups making a stand against EDL attempts to divide the community.
Tom Fenwick, the equalities officer from the teachers’ NUT union in Luton, told Socialist Worker, “There’s been a groundswell of support for the counter-demonstration. We’re a very multicultural town and we’re proud of that.”
Qadeer Baksh, the chair of Luton Islamic Centre, said, “The EDL have come here to spread fear and Islamophobia.
“Lutonians have lived side by side for years, and you can see that here. Muslims, white people, black people all wanted to come here today to show the real face of Luton.”
And Luton councillor Sian Timoney added, “The EDL have threatened to come back to Luton every six weeks. I say they can sod off. We can come back every six weeks too.”
And Weyman Bennett, joint national secretary of UAF, spoke about the importance of taking to the streets to challenge groups like the EDL.
“If you want to know what happens when fascists and racists are not confronted look across the Channel to Marine Le Pen in France.
“That’s what happens when we treat these people like normal politicians unlike the fascists that they are.”
The march is now making its way into the town centre.
Check Socialist Worker online later for a report of the day’s events. For more information on Unite Against Fascism see www.uaf.org.uk. Follow the demonstration on Twitter with the hashtag #weareluton