Thousands of people were set to take the streets to stop the racist English Defence League (EDL) in Waltham Forest, east London, this Saturday.
Determination to oppose the EDL has united people in the area—and left the racists running scared. The EDL had originally planned to march there on 18 August but postponed it.
Weyman Bennett, joint secretary of Unite Against Fascism, spoke to Socialist Worker. “The EDL moved the date because it is not confident marching through Waltham Forest,” he said.
The We Are Waltham Forest campaign, which was set up to stop the EDL, has widespread support. Trade unions, community groups, churches, local Labour councillors and local MP Stella Creasy pledged support for the counter demo.
And last week local mosques released a joint statement encouraging their congregations to mobilise against the EDL. Irfan Akhtar from Waltham Forest Council of Mosques said, “We are committed to a peaceful protest against these fascists coming to our diverse and tolerant borough.”
Dean Harris of We are Waltham Forest spoke to Socialist Worker. He said the statement from the mosques showed “how united this borough is”. He added, “We’re proud to be standing beside our Muslim sisters and brothers—and proud to stop the EDL.”
The opposition hasn’t only been built locally. Anti-racist activists from Chelmsford, Essex, were coming to Waltham Forest to support the counter protest. They faced an EDL march two weeks ago.
Tony Sullivan is a UCU union member in Chelmsford. He said, “It was so important that people from We Are Waltham Forest came to Chelmsford to stand with us against the EDL. People vowed to go to Walthamstow after our demo. We will be bringing anti-racists to stop the EDL.”
The threat of the EDL was hammered home this week. Anders Breivik, who killed 77 people in Norway last year, was sentenced last week to 21 years in jail for his fascist terror attack.
On hearing the sentence, EDL supporter Philip Horn wrote on his Facebook account, “Well done Anders Breivik. I take my hat off to you sir.” When asked if he would like to see similar attacks in Britain, Horn’s reply was sickening. He said, “Not to that extent, but if it achieved its goal, then yeah.”
Immediately after the attack, EDL founder and former financer Alan Lake posted online that “the chickens have come home to roost”. And EDL leader Stephen Yaxley-Lennon was filmed mocking those who died.
The EDL call marches and protests around Britain to divide ordinary people and spread their racist message. Many of its leading members have a history in fascist groups such as the British National Party.
EDL supporters have also attacked trade union and socialist meetings. They are a threat to us all and this is why we must oppose them wherever they go.
Dilwar Khan is the chair of East London Mosque, which was unsuccessfully targeted by the EDL last year. He told Socialist Worker, “The EDL targets Muslims because we are a minority. It is important to come out to oppose them because if good people stay at home, then evil will triumph.”
Stop the EDL in Waltham Forest: assemble 11am, Saturday 1 September, at the Arcade site next to Hoe Street, at the top end of Walthamstow High Street. Go to uaf.org.uk for more details