Slogans of unity against racism echoed in Newham, east London, last Saturday as 3,000 people took to the streets against India’s Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA).
The CAA, passed by the Hindu nationalist BJP government deliberately discriminates against India’s Muslim population.
On the Newham march Hindu, Sikh, Muslim, Christian, secular, black and white united behind a banner declaring, “No to Racism in India!”
Slogans were led for much of the march by a Hindu woman.
One of the most popular was, “We are Hindu, Muslim, Sikh and Christian! And we are all brothers!”
Indian prime minister, Narendra Modi is an example of a number of right wing populist leaders across the globe.
But despite a landslide election victory last year, Modi has been rocked by the massive united protests against his CAA by people of different religious backgrounds.
The inspirational defiance and unity of the protests in India has ignited the same spirit of anti-racist unity and opposition to Islamophobia in Newham. The biggest part of the local Muslim community is of Indian background.
This spirit was reflected in every speech at the final rally from Muslim, Sikh, Hindu and Jewish speakers.
Newham’s Labour Mayor Rokhsana Fiaz, London Assembly Member Unmesh Desai and local MP Stephen Timms all gave powerful echo to calls for unity and opposition to the CAA and racism.
Rohit Dasgupta, a Labour councillor from a Hindu background and a prominent LGBT+ activist, gave a powerful eyewitness report of the protests in India.
He spoke about the brutality of Modi’s police and his nationalist supporters. And he described how a Muslim protestor, who was far more at risk than he was, had accompanied him to safety.
Rob Ferguson, convenor of Newham Stand Up To Racism (SUTR), told the rally that Modi was not alone.
He stands with Trump, Johnson and far right leaders in other countries.
Alongside solidarity with the inspiring Indian protests against the CAA, we have to build the same movement of unity against Johnson and the Tories here in Britain.
The call for a Newham contingent to join the SUTR national demonstration on 21 March in London was warmly received.