protests in Oxford and Dudley this week will be key in the fightback against racism and Islamophobia.
The racist English Defence League (EDL) plans to protest against the building of a so-called “super mosque” in Dudley on Saturday.
This will be just two days after the French fascist Front National leader Marine Le Pen is set to speak at the Oxford Union.
Both Le Pen and the EDL want to stoke up division, and build on the rise of Islamophobia that has followed the Paris killings last month.
But anti-fascists are gearing up to stop them. In Dudley, Black Country Unite Against Fascism (UAF) has organised a counter-protest.
Trade unionists and activists are organising to come from Birmingham, Stoke, Telford, Walsall and Wolverhampton to the demonstration.
Shaziya from Birmingham urged anti-fascists to join the counter-protest. She told Socialist Worker, “It’s important to highlight what is happening in Europe, especially France and Greece with the rise in Islamophobic attacks.
“We don’t want it to get to a stage where people cannot openly worship, where they are demonised in the press and on the streets.”
Jerry Langford of Dudley UAF said the EDL will be opposed wherever they go in the town.
“Anti-racists should see this as the reason to get to Dudley on Saturday to make clear the EDL’s vision of racial division is rejected by everyone,” he told Socialist Worker.
Anti-fascists in Dudley should be inspired by the victory over the Nazi Welsh Alliance in Newport last Saturday. Around 200 people marched through the city to stop the racists, who failed to turn up.
UAF is also calling on anti-fascists to be prepared to mobilise in Stamford Hill in north London on 22 March. A small fascist organisation has called an Antisemitic protest in the area.
In Oxford, UAF activists have organised a protest outside the Oxford Union on the night Le Pen is due to speak.
More than 300 people have signed a statement in opposition to Le Pen speaking.
Labour councillor John Tanner said, “The Oxford Union debating club should not be giving a platform to extreme right wing politicians like Marine Le Pen.”
Joint secretary of UAF Weyman Bennett told a rally in Oxford last week, “We must stop modern fascists. They said Hitler was entitled to free speech and it ended in the gas chambers.”