Socialist Worker

International reports from the World Against Racism day

Issue No. 2646

On the protest in Athens on Saturday

On the protest in Athens on Saturday (Pic: Keerfa)

Protests in eight cities strike a blow against racist Greek state and the fascists

Thousands of people demonstrated in Athens and across Greece as part of the World Against Racism day of protests.

Leading the demonstration in Athens were hospital workers, refugees and migrants. There were also strong delegations of workers from the education trade unions and the cultural ministry as well as from the Muslim Association of Greece and LGBT+ organisations.

There were protests in eight towns and cities across the country.

There were three central reasons why people came out, and why an anti-racist movement is important in Greece right now.

The first is the fascist massacre of Muslims in Christchurch, New Zealand. Today's protest was an immediate reaction to that.

The second is that last week the Greek ministry of justice announced changes to the penal code. These could mean that the fascist leaders of Golden Dawn currently on trial could receive reduced sentences - some of them could avoid prison altogether. There has been such outcry over this that there has been a split inside the Syriza party. 

The third issue was the vicious state racism against migrants and refugees. Attacks against migrants and refugees are commonplace. Last week a Nigerian migrant went to a police station in Athens. Three hours later he was dead, but the police took four days to tell his wife. 

Saturday's demonstrations were a great step to prepare for the election period we are entering now. Fascists will use this period to appear respectable, so we are calling for massive resistance to them. We say put them in prison and stop them everywhere they appear. 

On the streets of Berlin

On the streets of Berlin (Pic: Phil Butland)

Thousands on the streets in Germany

Around 2,000 people braved terrible weather to march in Berlin against racism. The protest was called by Aufstehen Gegen Rassismus (Stand Up Against Racism) for the international day of action against racism and fascism. It was supported by the Die Linke, Green and SPD parties, the Muslim Centre Berlin, the local TUC and the teachers’ union.

Before the demonstration started there was a minute’s silence to commemorate the dead and injured of the terror attack in Christchurch. Aufstehen Gegen Rassismus speaker René Paulokat said, “We should not forget that the murderers referred to neo-Nazis from Europe. When right wing politicians describe refugees with words like ‘knifemen’, this leads to xenophobia and violence.”

The demonstration was united in its solidarity with the victims of the Christchurch victims and its vigilance against the threat of the Alternative für Deutschland (AfD). The AfD is anticipating successes in coming local and European elections. Its Nazi wing is gradually taking control of the party.

A speaker from an organisation of those persecuted by the Nazi regime called on the demonstrators from the SPD and the Greens to hold their parties to account for their inactivity over the NSU affair. This saw a neo-Nazi terror group murder nine migrants with passive support from elements of the state.

Demonstrations were organised in 32 different German cities and villages. Other anti-racist mobilisations are planned for the coming week, including a vigil for the Christchurch victims in Berlin’s Tempelhofer Feld park on Sunday afternoon.

Activists in Poland erect a fake wall outside the US embassy

Activists in Poland erect a fake wall outside the US embassy

Poland takes a stand against racism

Saturday saw demonstrations in five Polish cities. 1,000 people came out in Warsaw and hundreds demonstrated in Gdansk, Krakow, Pozna and Szczecin.

The fascist terrorist attack in New Zealand was on everyone’s mind. Candles were placed on the pavement in front of the New Zealand embassy.

People are conscious they are part of a global movement.

In Warsaw a school choir sang songs in Yiddish from the left-wing Jewish Bund party, which was a major force in Polish politics before the Second World War. 

There has recently been a resurgence of antisemitism, instigated by the right-wing government.

Government racism also encourages discrimination against the over 1 million Ukrainians working in Poland. It was significant that the leader of the Union of Ukrainian workers in Poland addressed the crowd.

He was accompanied by the deputy leader of one of Poland’s biggest trade union federations, the OPZZ. Other speakers included a Jewish activist, a Belarusian immigrant, representatives of left-wing parties and the Greens.

The march headed to the US embassy. A banner representing a mock wall was stretched across the street. On it was painted the slogan “No walls – no borders”. The wall was then torn down. The demonstration ended at parliament.

The demonstration was energetic and colourful. Many people made their own placards, and schoolkids were much in evidence.

It is possible that there were other protests that we don’t yet know about. We only heard on Saturday evening that a group of women’s right's activists had organised a picket against racism and fascism in the city of Toru.

Anti-racists have made important gains in the last few years. The United Against Racism coalition is trying to coordinate the various strands of the movement. It involves left parties, the Greens, trade unions, students, interfaith groups, immigrants and NGOs working with refugees and migrants.

United Against Racism and Fascism in New York

About 400 antifascists gathered at Foley Square in New York on Saturday for the debut of United Against Racism and Fascism, NYC. It was the inauguration of a new anti-fascist movement that goes beyond the limitations of the already existing anti-fascist efforts.

The role racism plays as an organizing tool for the fascists was the main theme of all the speakers at the rally.  As many speakers pointed out, Saturday's protest was about bringing antifascism out of the shadows and into the sunlight.

The rally started with a moment of silence in memory of the victims of the fascist terrorism in New Zealand.

Members of the Arab and Muslim communities spoke against Trump’s racism and Islamophobia and the need for solidarity between Jews, Arabs and all people against racism and the Far-Right.  

Dr. Ahmad Jaber of the Arab American Association of New York spoke about the racism Arabs and Muslims face and the vilification of Islam by mainstream politicians. He argues this creates a climate in which the Far Right grows, especially in the post-911 context of the FBI targeting mosques and Arab communities while ignoring the Far Right and the neo-nazi violence and terror.   

The protestors represented a broad layer of movements in New York.

Black Lives Matter endorsed and participated in the rally. It was a very important development and promises a closer working relationship in the future.

Members of the LGBTQ+ community were present as well. 

Jewish antifascists were present and spoke about the need for unity and solidarity in the fight against antisemetism and Islamophobia.

Another member from the Muslim community pointed out the link between imperialism and Islamophobia and the link between racism and war abroad and intervention in the Middle East.  

People rallied outside the Immiration and Customs Enforcement headquarters to protest against deportations and family separation at the Mexico border.

This was a great start for United Against Racism and Fascism, NYC in our efforts to build a broad anti-fascist movement in New York City and in the rest of the US.

Thanks to Petros Constantinou, Andy Zebrowski, Iannis Delatolas and Phil Butland

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