A mosque in Rotherham had a glass door smashed last Saturday after hundreds of racists descended on the town to try and whip up division.
Some 700 of them came from a variety of Nazi groups, including the National Front (see photo) to a protest called by the English Defence League (EDL). It aimed to exploit the recent horrific child abuse scandal in the South Yorkshire town.
Around 150 people came throughout the day to join a counter-protest against the racists organised by Unite Against Fascism (UAF).
Matloob Hussain told Socialist Worker, “I’m here to show my support for UAF.
“I care for my town. I was born and brought up in Rotherham, but the racists are trying to divide us.
“I’ve had some slurs shouted at me, but the people I speak to know this was an authority problem. Police failed the victims.”
Trade unionists from the NUJ, UCU, Unison and Unite unions attended the UAF protest.
Gavin Roberts is a teaching assistant in Rotherham. He said, “This is not the negative place the press is making out. We’re not against Muslims—we’re not divided.
“People are so disgusted that the EDL is coming here and saying it is speaking for Rotherham.”
Laura Miles, who is on the national exectuive of the University and College Union (UCU) travelled to the protest with other union members from a regional meeting in Leeds.
"This is a time when trade unionists need to stand up and fight," she told Socialist Worker.
The EDL plans a protest at Downing Street, central London, this Saturday.
Weyman Bennett, joint secretary of UAF, told Socialist Worker, “The EDL is exploiting the horrific cases of abuse to try and rebuild a defeated base. There’s deep anger and bitterness at what happened, but that shouldn’t be directed onto Muslims. This is not about race.
”Our voice has to be heard. We cannot be complacent - we cannot let our unity be torn apart by the racists."