Socialist Worker

After Woolwich... Don't let the racists divide us

by Judith Orr
Issue No. 2355

A counter-protest challenges the EDL march down Whitehall

A counter-protest challenges the EDL march down Whitehall (Pic: Guy Smallman)

The murder of British soldier Lee Rigby in Woolwich, south east London, on Wednesday of last week has led to a wave of reaction.

The two murder suspects, Michael Adebowale and Michael Adebolajo, are under arrest in hospital after being shot by police.

Before the police arrived on the scene Adebolajo spoke to passers by who filmed him with blood on his hands.

He said, “The only reason we have killed this man today is because Muslims are dying daily by British soldiers.

“I apologise that women have had to witness this today, but in our land our women have to see the same.

“Remove your government, they don’t care about you.”

Backstory image

The suspects were British and of Nigerian descent who had converted to Islam as adults.

Racist stereotypes about them were rife in the media frenzy that followed.

The Tories convened an emergency Cobra committee talking of a national terror scare. 

US president Barack Obama weighed in saying, the US “stands resolute with the United Kingdom, our ally and friend, against violent extremism and terror”.

As Socialist Worker went to press ten other people have been arrested in connected with the killing. 

One man was arrested in the street in North London by armed police wearing balaclavas.

The Tories are using Woolwich to stoke demands for greater surveillance of Muslims.

They could resurrect their surveillance bill, deemed a “snooper’s charter”.

They want to expand their powers to record phone calls, the websites people visit and the messages they send.

Yet it isn’t clear how any of this would have prevented the Woolwich killing.

Both suspects were already under surveillance and well known to the secret service. MI5 had even tried to recruit Adebolajo as an informant.

David Cameron has also announced he is going to chair a new task force to look at what he sees as Muslim extremism and radicalisation.

Yet it isn’t the clerics that are the radicalising factor.

Adebolajo is said to have become radicalised in 2003—the year that the US and Britain invaded Iraq.

The Tories and the media refuse to accept any connection between imperialist attacks and the killing in Woolwich.

Their pandering to Islamophobia has given confidence to racists and fascists. We must urgently oppose it.

Unite Against Fascism will hold a unity event in Woolwich in south east London this Saturday 1 June. Assemble 12 noon, General Gordon Square, SE18. Nearest transport—Woolwich Arsenal DLR

Please visit for information about other events

Anti-racist protests are taking place across Britain in the wake of the Woolwich killing—and Socialist Worker wants to hear about them.

Please send reports and pictures of your protests to [email protected]

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