Socialist Worker

Unite Against Fascism conference 2015: 'Anti-racists can shape election'

by Annette Mackin
Issue No. 2442

Syriza MP Nasos Iliopoulos addresses Unite Against Fascism conference

Syriza MP Nasos Iliopoulos addresses Unite Against Fascism conference (Pic: Guy Smallman)


Over 400 people attended the Unite Against Fascism (UAF) conference in London last Saturday.

Speakers from across Europe addressed workshops and plenaries throughout the day—and stressed the importance of building the 21 March demonstrations.

Christine Buchholz, an MP from the left wing Die Linke party in Germany, spoke of the rise in Islamophobia across Europe.

The anti-Muslim Pegida movement grew rapidly in Germany in recent months, holding a number of demonstrations that numbered in the tens of thousands. 

But now it is in crisis after a series of successful anti-racist mobilisations pushed it back.

On 21 March there will be protests in London, Cardiff, Glasgow and also in Athens, Rome, Barcelona, Dresden and Paris to rage against racism.

Christine urged people to continue to build the movement that divided Pegida and make links across Europe.

She said, “Pegida’s success was the tip of the iceberg of anti-Muslim racism and hatred against refugees which remains widespread, and will continue.

Mobilisations 

“So it is important we continue our mobilisations. We want to take to the streets and show we are the ones that do not have to be afraid.”

The call for the Europe-wide protests originally came from anti-fascist activists in Greece. 

Nasos Iliopoulos from Syriza’s central committee and Petros Constantinou from anti-racist coalition Keerfa both spoke of the threat of the fascist Golden Dawn in Greece. 

Petros said, “The Nazis are the legacy of racist politics against immigrants. 

“The international movement is very important—we have to put an end to racism. We will resist austerity and we will resist racism together.”

Fighting back against the tide of racism in the run-up to the general election in Britain was the theme of the Standing Up To Ukip workshop.

Labour MP Diane Abbott attacked the attitude of some in the Labour Party who are chasing the racism of Ukip.

She said she was “worried” by a tendency in Labour to “out Ukip Ukip”.

She explained, “Some Labour Party people will say, ‘Oh Diane, you don’t understand Ukip isn’t really about race.’ But when was the debate around immigration not about race? 

“Nothing is gained from moving to the right on immigration.”

Weyman Bennett, joint secretary of UAF, spoke in the plenary on Uniting against Islamophobia, Antisemitism and fascism after the attacks in Paris, Copenhagen and Chapel Hill.

He said that anti-racists have the chance to shape the debate in the run up to the election. “On 21 March we need to take to the streets to achieve this. Six weeks before the election, everyone has to go and shape what is going to happen.

“Let’s make sure the streets of cities across Europe are filled with anti-racists and anti-fascists making a stand.”


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