Socialist Worker

Packed public meeting after victory against the racists

by Annette Makin
Issue No. 2356

Around 160 anti-fascists packed into the University of London Union last night (Monday) to discuss the way forward after winning a crucial victory over racists at the weekend.

The public meeting was called by Unite Against Fascism (UAF).

Speakers included Labour MP Jeremy Corbyn, comedian Ava Vidal, Talha Ahmed of the Muslim Council of Britain and author Daniel Trilling.

They were joined by Shakeel Begg, imam at the Lewisham Islamic Centre. He expressed his thanks to UAF for giving him much needed support over the last two weeks.

The British National Party (BNP) planned to march from Woolwich to the Islamic centre last Saturday. Many were worried that physical attacks on Muslims would follow.

Local anti-fascists mobilised to ensure that fascists would not reach their target. But in the event, the police banned the BNP

Speeches by many emphasised the importance of not being complacent about the BNP and the English Defence League (EDL).

Daniel Trilling pointed to the slowness of some of the left in Greece to respond to the rise of the Nazi Golden Dawn party.

He said, “Syriza [the largest left group in the Greek parliament] for a long time wouldn’t officially organise against fascism.”

Weyman Bennett also referred to the worrying situation in Europe, where some fascists groups can mobilise thousands to march.

He contrasted this to the way that both the EDL and BNP have been beaten back by big anti-fascist protests in Tower Hamlets and Walthamstow, in east London.

He pointed to the key role UAF played in chipping away at their credibility and urged the audience to maintain their vigilance.

Speeches from the floor included a contribution from Muslim woman who had experienced Islamophobia in France.

She said, “What we see in France is the legacy of the unrelenting advance of the far right. For ten years, UAF has built alliances. When I am on the streets, I know whose side I want to be on.”

It is crucial that UAF groups are set up around the country to build rooted anti-fascist networks.

Solidarity was also pledged to the 58 arrested. Weyman said, “People had the right to stand there and say the Nazis do not pass. UAF defends all the demonstrators.”

UAF is planning a defence campaign for those arrested on the demonstrations last week. Please send messages of support to them by emailing [email protected]


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Tue 4 Jun 2013, 17:58 BST
Issue No. 2356
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