Socialist Worker

Birmingham anti-racists rally against mosque attacks

Issue No. 2647

Part of the protest against mosque attacks in Birmingham

Part of the protest against mosque attacks in Birmingham (Pic: Birmingham Stand Up To Racism )


Anti-racist campaigners mobilised in Birmingham last Saturday in solidarity with Muslims after attacks on six mosques in the city.

Five mosques were attacked with sledgehammers in the early hours of last Thursday.

A 34 year old man was arrested on suspicion of racially aggravated criminal damage after handing ­himself in to police on Friday. West Midlands police said he had been detained under the Mental Health Act.

Another mosque was targeted on Saturday morning.

The attacks came shortly after an Islamophobic attack near an east London mosque and a stabbing “inspired by the far right” in Surrey.

Reported anti-Muslim hate crimes across Britain rose by 600­ percent in the week after a Nazi killed 50 worshippers at two New Zealand mosques. Some 95 incidents were reported to the charity Tell Mama between 15 March—the day of the New Zealand atrocity—and midnight on 21 March.

Nearly all contained direct references to the New Zealand attacks and featured gestures such as mimicking firearms being fired at Muslims.

This is why protests like the one in Birmingham are so important.

Organisation

They are a chance to show opposition to Islamophobia, racism and the far right and to strengthen organisation against them.

The Birmingham protest was organised by Stand Up To Racism (SUTR) and Muslim Engagement and Development. It brought together anti-racists, Muslims, Labour Party members, LGBT+ activists and trade unionists.

Michael Bradley from SUTR said, “The attacks on the mosques were designed to intimidate Muslims off the streets and deepen divisions. It hasn’t worked and we will keep fighting to make sure it doesn’t happen in the future.”

Those who carry out attacks, or organise the far right, draw inspiration from the wider current of Islamophobia in the media and ­mainstream politics.

It was revealed this week that more than a dozen Tory councillors who were suspended over posting Islamophobic or racist content online have had their memberships quietly reinstated.

Some described Saudi Arabians as “sand peasants” while others shared material comparing Asian people to dogs.

Solihull borough council ­councillor Jeff Potts was suspended from the Tory party in September after retweeting a post that said Muslims should to be deported.

He has been readmitted to the party, though he still sits as an ­independent on the council.

After the major SUTR demonstrations in Britain on 16 March, the anti-racist movement needs to grow. Every socialist, union leader and Labour Party member should build it.


Second wave of protests

Big demonstrations were held as part of a second wave of marches in many parts of the world around UN anti-racism day.

Around 10,000 people took part in Amsterdam, the Netherlands.

The success of the racist Forum for Democracy party in recent provincial elections shocked people into action. It won the largest number of seats for any party.

The march last Saturday was the biggest Dutch anti-racist demonstration since the 1990s.

Around 8,000 people took part in a protest in Belgium and 5,000 in Barcelona in Catalonia. There the march centred on opposition to Vox, a rising far right party.

Around 3,000 people marched in Auckland, New Zealand on Sunday in response to the killings at two mosques in Christchurch earlier this month.

A number of vigils have also been held across Britain to mark the attacks.

Together they have involved thousands of people who are shocked and angered by the murders.


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