Socialist Worker

'Stop treating Muslims as a scapegoat'—show of defiance on east London vigil

by Tomáš Tengely-Evans
Issue No. 2562

Solidarity with Muslims out Stratford station in east London

Solidarity with Muslims outside Stratford station in east London (Pic: Socialist Worker)


Around 300 people rallied against racist attacks against Muslims outside Stratford station in east London last night, Wednesday. They were demanding justice for two Muslim victims of a horrific acid attack last month. 

A white man threw acid at Resham Khan and Jameel Mukhtar through a car window in the Beckton area of Newham. The police are treating it as a “hate crime” and have said that they are seeking a 24 year old man called John Tomlin in connection with the offence. 

Obaid Khan, a councillor in the area, told Socialist Worker, “We’re here to stand shoulder to shoulder with Resham, Jameel and their families.

He added, “People in the Muslim community are very frightened. I’ve seen messages on social media of women on social media saying they are going to take a bucket of water with them when they go out. 

“We’re here to say people should not have to feel like that.” 

There have been reports of other acid attacks in east London—and many Muslims fear being targeted in racist attacks. 

But there was a large turnout of Muslims last night in defiance of Islamophobia. Jama, a Muslim woman from east London, told Socialist Worker, “This attack happened because of racism and Islamophobia. 

“The levels of racism against Muslims are really high at the moment, we experience it on a day to day basis. After the attacks in London Bridge you would go into work and see people looking at you. 

“When you walked into a room, they would look at you and stop talking suddenly. 

“Even though they fell silent, you know what they were talking about and what they were thinking about you.” 

Fuels 

The Tories and the right wing newspaper have been quick to offer sympathy to Resham and Jameel and denounce “extremism” and “hate”. But it’s this racism from the top that fuels the sort of racist attacks like this one. 

Theresa May whipped up racism against Muslims in the wake of the horrific attacks in Manchester and London Bridge. 

They have pledged to bring in more draconian terror laws aimed at clamping down on Muslims and to bolster the “Prevent” programme. Forcing public sector workers, such as teachers to spy for signs of “radicalisation”, this targets and criminalises Muslims. 

Under pressure a new report by Tory MP Dominic Grieve has told the government to review Prevent. His real agenda is to put a liberal spin on Prevent—to carry on clamping down on Muslims. 

But at the rally Wassim Ahmed from Muslim Engagement and Development (Mend) slammed the Tories’ warm words about “talking to Muslims”. “If you want to talk and engage with Muslims treat us with dignity and respect,” he said. 

“Stop treating Muslims as a scapegoat—and scrap Prevent.”

The vigil was a show of defiance and strength and—and the potential to build opposition to the right’s racist attempts to divide us. As Weyman Bennett from Stand Up To Racism told the crowd, “When people are angry let’s make sure we blame the right people. 

“It’s time to blame Theresa May". 


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