Up to 100 people rallied against the racist English Defence League (EDL) in Bradford, west Yorkshire, last Saturday.
The EDL has latched onto a local child sexual exploitation (CSE) court case to try and whip up hatred against Muslims. But its “national protest” attracted fewer than 100.
We Are Bradford and Unite Against Fascism (UAF) called the protest. Mukhtar Ali from We Are Bradford told Socialist Worker, “We are sending a signal that we won’t be divided.”
Police had visited mosques in Bradford the day before the protest urging people not to turn out against the EDL. But protesters were clear that ignoring racism won’t make it go away.
Local resident Sam said, “They need to know they’re not welcome. If we ignore them, they’ll just think they can do what they like.”
Amber and Faith help run the Stand Up to Racism society at Leeds university. Amber said, “It’s important to be on the streets. Otherwise they will keep coming and next time there will be more.”
Faith added, “The EDL makes Muslims and others feel not welcome. But they will feel better if they see anti-racists.”
Protesters chanted, “EDL – go home,” and “Racists attack – we fight back”.
UCU union member Lesley McGorrigan denounced the EDL for using abuse cases for their own ends. “We all stand against those kind of crimes,” she told the rally. “But it’s not a Muslim issue and we will stand against attempts to divide us.”
Protester Osman agreed. “EDL supporters are just using the issue of CSE,” he said. “But they don’t give a damn about abuse victims. They aren’t protesting when it’s white people in court.”
Anti-racists outnumbered the racist Scottish Defence League (SDL) by two to one in Monkton, near Glasgow, last Sunday.
The SDL was protesting against the Adamton Country House Hotel offering to shelter 150 refugees. More than 200 people joined a Glasgow Campaign to Welcome Refugees counter protest.
South Yorkshire Police have charged 19 men with offences following a Britain First protest in Rotherham, South Yorkshire, on 5 September.
Some 400 people had joined a UAF protest on the day. Anti-racists in Rotherham are planning a defence campaign.