Activists and trade unionists are determined to stop the racist English Defence League (EDL) from marching through east London on Saturday.
The EDL has told its members to assemble in south east London to march through the heart of Tower Hamlets—Altab Ali Park. Unite Against Fascism (UAF) has called a counter demonstration to oppose them.
Over 400 people came to a meeting at the East London Mosque last weekend. They planned the final push for the counter-demonstration to keep the EDL out.
“I think it’s very important that we are out to show our unity,” Dilowar Khan, director of the East London Muslim Centre, told Socialist Worker. “We are one community. We have to be out to protect ourselves from harm and to promote peace.”
The UAF counter?protest is supported by United East End and the NUT, PCS, RMT, Unite, Unison and CWU unions.
The Trades Union Congress (TUC), representing 6.2 million workers, also backs the anti-racist demonstration. TUC general secretary Frances O’Grady told Socialist Worker, “The rise of the far right is a huge concern for us all.
“The work that Unite Against Fascism does in fighting these parties is absolutely vital. I urge people to join the demo against the EDL in Tower Hamlets on 7 September.”
Tower Hamlets Labour Party has confirmed it will join the UAF counter protest. Chair of the local Labour group, Chris Weavers, said, “We will be at the march opposing the EDL if they come.”
The two Labour MPs in Tower Hamlets, Jim Fitzpatrick and Rushanara Ali, have sent a letter to Theresa May requesting the EDL be banned.
The last time the EDL planned to march on Tower Hamlets was in 2011. People argued then to ban the EDL march, and May put one in place.
This helped the state get away with banning all marches that day, including those of anti-racists. And bans do not mean that fascists will abandon their attempt to march.
If the EDL are banned they will still be escorted to a “static” rally. That’s one reason why we do not argue for a ban.
Last week a mosque in Harlow was targeted in an attempted arson attack. UAF held a public meeting in solidarity with the mosque.
EDL thugs turned up and tried to intimidate the anti-racists inside. Weyman Bennett, joint secretary of UAF, told Socialist Worker, “The EDL is behind the latest attacks on Muslims. These are an attack on all of us.
“We are calling on everyone to come to east London on Saturday to stand up to the racists together.”
The location of Altab Ali park is important. It was named after a local Bangladeshi factory worker murdered by racists in 1978.
Now the EDL wants to march there and stir up race hatred.
Marching in Tower Hamlets is the prize for the EDL. They have been linked to mosque burnings and attacks around the country since the killing of Lee Rigby in Woolwich. They want to come to east London to intimidate Muslim people there.
But a unified mobilisation of local people, trade unions and anti-fascists is determined that they shall not pass.
A timeline of hate
The far right has been linked to mosque burnings and attacks since the killing of Lee Rigby in Woolwich on 22 May 2013:
- 23 May Arson attack on the Zainabia Islamic Centre in Milton Keynes
- 26 May Arson attack on Grimsby Mosque
- 5 June Al-Rahma Islamic Centre in Muswell Hill north London destroyed in arson attack. “EDL” daubed on the building
- 18 June Lit petrol poured around the door of the Masjid-E-Noor in Gloucester
- 22 June Explosive device found outside the Aisha Mosque and Islamic Centre in Walsall
- 12 July Nail bomb exploded outside the Kanz?ul-Iman Central Jamia Mosque in Tipton, West Midlands
- 26 August Harlow Mosque set alight