A week after the horrific attack that left asylum seeker Reker Ahmed with life-threatening injuries hundreds of people rallied in Croydon, south London, to reject the racism that lay behind the attack.
Up to 500 people marched through the town this afternoon, Saturday, to unite people against racism.
Socialist Worker spoke to people from the area who joined the march.
Penny Hutton said, "This is a multicultural town. It's disgusting what happened. Racists need to know that they can't get away with attacks like this."
Guy Brewer from the PCS civil service workers' union told Socialist Worker, "The state is trying to divide us and create a culture of fear. We need to unite and reject that culture."
Emily said, "The more we do things like this, the better. The attack was the result of the government and the media constantly pushing hatred and fear."
As the march moved through Croydon high street stallholders applauded and people from the local area stopped their shopping to join the march.
The crowd heard speakers from the local Kurdish community reject the racism being pushed by the establishment.
The state is trying to divide us and create a culture of fear. We need to unite and reject that cultureGuy, PCS union member
"I arrived here in 1980," said Zinar Demini. "We didn't come here for fun, we came here because we were fleeing brutal regimes. The British government supports these regimes."
He said that a solidarity fund has raised over £50,000 for Reker. Zinar reported that when he visited Reker in hospital he was very pleased with the solidarity and good wishes.
As people rallied at the end of the march Patricia Cummings from Croydon trades council slammed the Tories' decision to cut the number of child refugees allowed into Britain under the "Dubs amendment" to the 2016 Immigration Act.
"The government assured us that 3,000 would be allowed to come. That's not enough, but they've done a U-turn on that now," she said.
Zinar called out the hypocrisy of Theresa May and the Tories over the refugee crisis. "Theresa May went straight to Turkey after becoming prime minister and offered a new arms deal to the value of £120 million. Now there's talk of increasing that to £600 million.
"The government needs to stop instigating the message that refugees are responsible for the situation here. That message has contributed to this attack."
It's clear that anti-racists must organise themselves and can't rely on the state for support in the fight for justice.
Weyman Bennett from Stand Up To Racism said, "The atmosphere of racism has been whipped up by politicians who want to use racism to blame the most desperate people in the world."
Today's protest was an important display of unity against the racism being pushed from the top.
Croydon is where the government leaves migrants in limbo
by Sadie Robinson
Politicians condemned the attack on Reker Ahmed. But Croydon is also a key site for their policies against refugees and migrants that create the conditions for such violence.
The Home Office’s Lunar House, which deals with visas and immigration, is in Croydon.
Successive governments clamping down on refugees and migrants mean many are caught in limbo. They have to report regularly to Lunar House with no guarantee they won’t be deported.
Sunday from Nigeria is one of them. “It’s very stressful,” he told Socialist Worker.
“I’ve been doing this for four years now. You can imagine the emotional trauma it causes.
“I have to come every two weeks for an appointment here. I’m fighting to be able to stay here with my partner, but they’re asking me to return home.”
Several migrants said it “isn’t easy” following Britain's immigration rules.
Aziz, originally from Algeria, told Socialist Worker, “I’ve been in this country for 14 years. My wife is English. But I’ve had to come here every month for the last year. I don’t understand why I’m here.”
Aziz had thought he had leave to remain in Britain. “They are just checking on me,” he said. “You get a number and you have to go in and show your papers.”
Sachin from India has been in Britain for 12 years. He was at Lunar House to get a visa for his wife.
“They’ve changed too many laws for immigrants and it has got stricter,” he told Socialist Worker. “It’s costing me £2,900 for my wife’s visa. If you didn’t have the money, what would you do?”
Sachin said he thought the system needed to change.
“At times it’s ridiculous,” he said. “One of my friends applied for a visa using the same day service. But it's been about a year and they haven’t heard anything.”
He said immigration officials “just leave people hanging”.
When young refugees from Calais finally arrived in Britain last year, their buses dropped off at Lunar House. They were met by press photographers trying to “prove” they had lied about their age.
And government racism towards migrants and refugees encourages far right groups. The fascist British National Party (BNP) held several anti-immigrant “protests” at Lunar House.
The PCS union, which represents workers there, has called anti-racist counter-protests along with other groups.
A PCS spokesman told Socialist Worker, “It’s utterly appalling how the far right target people who go to Lunar House for help and the staff who work there to provide it.
“Staff and asylum seekers naturally feel intimidated by these thugs showing up on the doorstep. That’s why we will continue to work with anti-racist campaigns so we don’t allow them to take over our streets.”