Hundreds of people attended eight rallies around Britain yesterday, Thursday, as support for the anti-racist demonstrations on Saturday 19 March reached new levels.
Around 120 people came to the meeting in Haringey, north London, where Guardian writer Gary Younge said, “It’s so important come March 19 that we have big crowds because they matter, because they give other people hope.
“Refugees welcome” is the main slogan of the protests. They also oppose Islamophobia, antisemitism and other forms of racism.
The platforms brought together trade unionists, politicians, faith groups, refugee activists and campaigners against the Tories’ anti-Muslim Prevent strategy.
In Leicester Labour councillor Diane Cank argued against scapegoating. “Refugees flee wars—they don't come here to take benefits,” she said.
Teacher Sara Tomlinson reported back from a recent trade union delegation to the Calais refugee camp. “We must let the Calais refugees into Britain,” she said.
In Nottingham former Guantanamo Bay prisoner Moazzam Begg told an audience of over 50, “Islamophobia is not born it's taught, and it's the government and media doing the teaching”.
A meeting of 120 in Tower Hamlets, east London, united leading figures from both sides of last year’s bitterly contested mayoral election. Diverse speakers made varied contributions.
Leon Silver from the East London Central Synagogue said he wouldn’t be here today if his parents hadn’t been allowed into Britain as refugees from the Holocaust.
In Doncaster junior doctor Megan Parsons said the NHS had been founded on the work of migrants.
Nazia Fattar talked about the horrors women asylum seekers face in the Yarl’s Wood detention centre, where protesters are set to rally on Saturday 12 March.
Other meetings took place in Derby, Leeds and Liverpool, with more planned in Norwich and Lancaster over the weekend.
The marches are set to take place in London, Glasgow and Cardiff. Activists are leafletting high streets across Britain, with coaches booked from all over England to the London demo.