Some 400 anti-racists gathered in Rotherham, South Yorkshire, last Saturday to oppose the Nazi Britain First group and remember a murdered Muslim man.
Many felt the demonstration, boosted by a big turnout from Asian people, was a breakthrough in the battle against racism in the town.
Protesters gathered in All Saints Square. They paid their respects to Mushin Ahmed, an 81 year old Muslim who died recently after being attacked in Rotherham.
Britain First drew no more than 170 to a racist march.
Local resident Shakoor told Socialist Worker, “This is not just about the death of Mushin Ahmed. It’s about a racist ideology.
“I’m Rotherham born and bred and I can feel that the racists are emboldened. But we’re not going to be divided.”
Haroon Rashid grew up a few minutes from where Mushin was attacked. He told Socialist Worker, “All Mushin was doing was going to mosque. I’ve lived all my life in Rotherham and everyone got on. People are shocked at the attack.”
Racist and fascist groups descended on Rotherham after a 2014 report into child abuse in the town. They want to blame this on Islam and whip up racism.
Unite Against Fascism (UAF) called the protest against Britain First and it was backed by community groups.
Sixteen year old Haleem told Socialist Worker it was time that Muslims spoke out. “We’re used to our elders telling us to stay at home,” he said. “My relatives told me not to come today. Some said it wouldn’t make any difference.
“But they should see what we can do when we stand united.”
Muslims, councillors and trade unionists addressed a rally in the square. Vakas Hussain from Muslim Youth said, “The life of a Muslim is worth less than the life of a non-Muslim. But there’s no point being angry and not doing anything about it.”
Maxine Bowler from Sheffield TUC told the crowd, “Every time the racists march here, racists gain confidence. We cannot allow this.”
Police disgracefully facilitated the Nazis’ march to the town hall and tried to provoke anti-racists by riding horses into the square.
But anti-racists will keep fighting. Rotherham council worker and Unison union member Iris told Socialist Worker, “We’ve had the English Defence League and Britain First calling us paedophiles.
“These people can’t keep coming here and intimidating us. If the fascists take to the streets, we have to take to the streets.”
Around 800 people joined a UAF protest at Liverpool Lime Street station last Saturday.
Nazi group National Action was forced to call off its march for the second time in three weeks because of growing opposition.
Anti-fascists also outnumbered the Nazi British National Party in Croydon, south London, and the Berkshire Infidels in Slough last Saturday.