Anti-fascists are organising to take to the streets. Europe’s leading Nazi and leader of the French Front National, Marine Le Pen, is set to speak at the Oxford Union on Thursday 5 February.
Activists have leafleted mosques and organised in workplaces to build a Unite Against Fascism (UAF) demonstration opposing her.
Asad, a local taxi driver and president of the Oxford Muslim Society, told Socialist Worker that drivers are using their taxi networks to tell people about the demo.
He said, “I believe in freedom of speech and the right to be critical, but we’ve seen anti-Islam protests all across Europe and Islamophobia is growing.
“We need to challenge that. The issue of fascism affects all of us—the working class. The fascists are an obstacle in the way of workers’ rights.
“If you give them free rein they will try and manipulate a minority of people.”
Anti-fascists have been holding stalls and leafleting Islamic centres. Local activist Julie said that 500 leaflets were handed out on one stall in the town centre last week.
“It was buzzing,” she told Socialist Worker. “Postal workers, health workers, bus drivers and students took bundles of flyers and stickers to build the demo.”
At Oxfordshire Unison healthcare branch over 100 workers voted at their AGM last week to support the rally and protest, and donated £500 to the demonstration.
And at Birkbeck College in London, the students’ union passed a motion supporting no platform for Le Pen, as well as providing a coach to the counter-demonstration.
It is extremely important that Le Pen does not go unopposed. Nazis are hoping for a boost in the wake of the Paris killings earlier this month and rising Islamophobia.
Two days after Le Pen plans to come to Oxford, the English Defence League (EDL) has called a protest in Dudley against the building of a “super mosque”.
Black Country UAF has called a counter-demonstration. Wolverhampton university students are building the counter-demonstration on campus and trying to get students’ union backing.
Student Shaz Islam said, “Most students at the university are from the area.
“We’ve been making the argument that it’s really important people should always stand up to fascism. The EDL is clearly no longer the force it was and some people say that if we ignore it then it will go away.
“But even if it’s just two EDL members, we should oppose them.”
UAF conference 2015
The Unite Against Fascism conference on 21 February will be a key event for anti-racists.
Far right and fascist groups advanced across Europe last year.
And this week Greek Nazis Golden Dawn came third in the general election.
In Britain we have seen the main parties and Ukip ramp up the scapegoating of migrants.
In the US fury at police brutality and racism has seen tens of thousands march in cities across the country.
One session at the conference will look at how to keep racism out of the general election, while another is on racism after the Paris shootings.
Others will discuss institutional police racism, fighting the racist Ukip party and building the anti-racist protests on 21 March.