Socialist Worker

Far right got 'more than they bargained for', Rotherham 12 trial hears

by Phil Turner
Issue No. 2525

A Nazi ringleader led a drunken street attack on Asian men after an anti-fascist demonstration in Rotherham marking the racist murder of a grandfather, a jury has heard.

The protest took place in the south Yorkshire town in September last year. A group of Asian men, known as the Rotherham 12, were charged with violent disorder following the protest.

Their trial at Sheffield Crown Court heard that John Sheridan of the Nazi Yorkshire Finest group “led the charge” up a street from a town centre pub. The jury heard that Sheridan was intent on violence and shouting racist abuse.

Sheridan was punched once by one of the defendants, Abrar Javid, his barrister Stephen Uttley said, to protect a group of elderly Muslims from assault.

Uttley questioned why Asian demonstrators were directed down Wellgate towards the William Fry pub where members ofright wing groups were drinking and being racially abusive.

Sheffield Crown Court heard that fascists including Sheridan stood outside the pub told others to get pool cues saying, “You’re going to get it Pakis.”

But the Nazi group “got rather more than they bargained for” and were outnumbered by Asian men. Many were on their way home froma counter-protest against a demonstration by the Nazi Britain First. The counter-protest was called by Rotherham Unite against Fascism.

Two weeks earlier the town was shocked and outraged by the racist murder of Mushin Ahmed as he walked to his mosque in the early hours, the court heard.

Defending

The defendants say they were acting in self-defence or defending others, family members, children or friends after they were attacked on September 5 last year.

Paul O’Shea, prosecuting, said 800 police were on duty that Saturday afternoon.

The march by Britain First and other groups, including Yorkshire’s Finest, was the latest in a long series of far right protests. The protests followed a child sexual exploitation scandal in the town.

Before the killing of Mushin Ahmed Asian people mostly did not get involved in counter protests, the court heard. But the murder caused shock and outrage. When yet another march was planned, more Asian people came to the counter-protest, he said.

O'Shea added, “The death of that man had a profound impact and the attendance yet again of those espousing certain views and opinions on this occasion was not something that could be ignored. People had had enough.”

The prosecution said "in the clearest of terms" that the men in the pub, or at least some of them, were drunk, aggressive and shouting vile racist abuse at the Asian men. This included, “Come on you Paki bastards” and other similarly offensive phrases.

O'Shea went on, “They were, you may think, out to cause trouble and, when the opportunity presented itself, they took it.

“But they got rather more than they bargained for here, and fairly quickly, because they became significantly outnumbered by a great many men, many of whom were on the way home from the counter-protest.

“Having started the trouble, as often happens in these sorts of circumstances, they found themselves in serious trouble themselves and on the receiving end of something that they started.”

O’Shea said the ten men on trial were part of the group of Asian men. Two men have pled guilty. Those from the “other side” will go on trial at a later date, he told the jury.

The trial continues.


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