A mosque and a Sikh gurdwara in Leeds were attacked in the early hours of Tuesday morning in what police are treating as “hate crimes”.
The assaults follow a march in Leeds last Friday in defence of jailed fascist Tommy Robinson.
The arson attacks are another powerful reason to join the anti-racist demonstrations in London, Newcastle and York on Saturday when Robinson’s supporters take to the streets again.
Police said the main door at Jamia Masjid Abu Huraira Mosque in Beeston, Leeds, was deliberately set on fire at around 3.30am. Police were called to Guru Nanak Nishkam Sewak Jatha Gurdwara, also in Beeston, at around 4.20am after someone had set the door on fire.
Councillor Gohar Almas is a Labour councillor in Beeston and Holbeck. He told Socialist Worker, “Somebody tried to set the mosque and the gurdwara alight.
“The mosque is bang opposite a primary school. What kind of message is this sending to the children?”
One person at the gurdwara told Socialist Worker that the “sentiment is of fear” among people following the attacks. Some six people live in the gurdwara, including two elderly couples.
Britbalsingh Dhanjal, a volunteer at the gurdwara, told Leeds Live, “It is a big concern. I have got sadness with me. This is something which should never have happened.”
Rafaqat Ali from the mosque told local media that he was “upset and shocked”. Another mosque member added, “My kids go there and are scared now, because of this attack.”
The only thing that shouldn’t be tolerated is intolerance
Robinson’s supporters demonstrated last week in Leeds after he was jailed for breaching a court order by filming outside an abuse trial in the west Yorkshire city.
Various fascists have organised protests to defend his “free speech”.
But as Gohar said, allowing Nazis free speech is dangerous. “The only thing that shouldn’t be tolerated is intolerance,” he told Socialist Worker.
“Spreading hate speech, Islamophobia, antisemitism and homophobia should not be tolerated.” He added that the Nazi march last Friday will have “absolutely” given racists more confidence.
Anti-racists in Leeds will meet to discuss their response to the attacks. In a statement Leeds Stand Up To Racism said, “The person or persons who carried out this shameful attack represent a tiny fraction of our population and their racist and hate filled ideology and behaviour is not welcome here or anywhere.
“We believe unity in the face of such an attack is essential. We stand shoulder to shoulder with our Muslim and Sikh brothers and sisters. We represent the anti-racist majority.”
Gohar said, “We have fought this before. We are a united and resilient community – a community of communities. We are here to unite people, not divide people, and we will not let people divide us.”
Sign this statement
Stand Up To Racism has circulated a statement opposing the racist and fascist march for Tommy Robinson. Signatories include Diane Abbott MP, Kevin Courtney, NEU union joint general secretary, Mark Serwotka, PCS general secretary, Dave Ward, CWU general secretary, Manuel Cortes, TSSA general secretary, Mick Whelan, ASLEF general secretary, Ian Hodson, BFAWU national president, Jane Loftus, CWU vice president, Mohammed Kozbar, Finsbury Park Mosque, David Rosenberg, Jewish Socialist Group, Maz Saleem, Stand Up To Trump.
To see the statement and add your name go here