Socialist Worker

Mass anti-fascist rally in Walthamstow takes on the English Defence League

by Ken Olende
Issue No. 2453

Part of the 1,000-strong protest against the English Defence League in Walthamstow

Part of the 1,000-strong protest against the English Defence League in Walthamstow (Pic: Guy Smallman)


Up to 1,000 people rallied in Walthamstow, north east London, against the racist English Defence League (EDL) last Saturday. 

Unite Against Fascism called the protest with We Are Waltham Forest to oppose an EDL demonstration.

Mohammed, who works at Newham Sixth Form College, told Socialist Worker, “I’m a Muslim. The EDL lies about us and attacks us. 

“But I live in Waltham Forest. This is my turf and everyone round here has to challenge them.”

Marchers also took on anti-migrant racism. Sam Strudwick, a Unison union rep at the local Whipps Cross hospital, told the rally, “Immigrants built the NHS and keep it going.” 

Affifa came to the protest with two friends. She said, “The EDL targets Muslims, so it is nice for us to see so many people who aren’t Muslims here supporting us. 

“The protest was announced in the mosques on Friday and Muslims care. But many are scared to come.”

The EDL protest was a national mobilisation but put less than 100 Nazis on the street. Yet a massive police operation, including hundreds of officers, horses and dogs, allowed them to march.

Crown

Local vicar Steven Saxby spoke to the crowd at the end of the protest. 

“Today I have been pushed and threatened with arrest on three occasions in my own neighbourhood,” he said. “If the EDL comes back we must march.”

Police had tried to change the assembly point for the anti-racist protest and constantly harassed demonstrators.

Anti-fascists harangued EDL supporters as they marched under heavy police guard down Blackhorse Road. 

Local residents came out of their houses shouting, “We don’t want you here—get out of Walthamstow”. 

Around 60 people repeatedly tried to obstruct the route of the march, slowing it down.

When police had penned the EDL near the town hall protesters continued to shout abuse. People from nearby flats stayed to shout at the Nazis.

Irfan Aktar of Waltham Forest Muslim Association told the rally, “The council said they don’t want confrontation.

“But I’m glad to see some councillors here.”

Walthamstow resident  Jo Cardwell of Stand Up to Ukip told the crowd, “The only good thing in the election was that Nigel Farage was not elected. 

“But the rise of the far right is because of the scapegoating of immigrants.”

The EDL has threatened to hold several protests in the coming months. For details of counter-protests go to uaf.org.uk

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