Two thugs tried to shut down a Socialist Worker stall in Oxford on Friday evening campaigning against Boris Johnson’s racist attack on Muslim women wearing the burqa.
They tried to intimidate by shouting, shoving and invading people’s personal space, tearing newspapers and sweeping books onto the ground. They kicked at the stall and made repeated attempts to grab the megaphone.
While the attack was not necessarily pre-planned, and while they didn’t identify as belonging to any group, it had all the hallmarks of a fascist attempt to prevent freedom of speech.
This has implications for any group who wants to campaign for progressive change. It also highlights how the climate has dramatically changed recently.
We have seen the rise of forces supporting the fascist Tommy Robinson and, following US president Donald Trump’s visit, the attack on Steve Hedley and the RMT union delegation after a protest in London against Robinson.
The far right attack on Bookmarks bookshop was another example of the growing confidence of fascists in Britain.
Johnson has also encouraged the far right. An investigation revealed his official Facebook page hosts hundreds of Islamophobic messages.
Under entries that publicise Johnson’s articles and speeches, the MP’s followers left comments including calls to ban Islam and deport Muslims, as well as vile attacks on the mayor of London, Sadiq Khan.
Among the remarks on the former foreign secretary’s Facebook page are calls for “no Muslims in government, police or army”.
One post reads, “That’s crazy to trust them. They are just waiting for the Jihad signal to turn on us. #islamophobicandproud.”
In Oxford after the attack we immediately approached political parties, campaign groups and trade unions and asked them to come together for a solidarity event.
Support has rolled in and there will be a “We will not be silenced” solidarity rally on Saturday 25 August, 11am, Carfax, Oxford.
The event has been called by Oxford Stand Up To Racism; Oxford Unite Against Fascism; Oxford Love Music Hate Racism; Oxford Labour Muslim Network; Oxon NASUWT; Oxford Momentum; Oxford Palestine Solidarity Campaign; Oxfordshire & Buckinghamshire DWP PCS; Oxford CND and Campaign to Close Campsfield with more support expected.