Chants of “Tories out, migrants in” rang out as thousands marched against racism in central London on Saturday.
The demonstration was organised by Stand Up To Racism as part of a day of action that saw protests in cities across Europe, including in Austria, Greece, Denmark, Catalonia, Poland, and France.
Around 1,500 also joined the march in Glasgow and people also took to the streets of Cardiff.
The demonstrations brought together people who want to resist racism – from the Tories’ attacks on EU migrants’ rights, to Donald Trump’s bigotry, state racism, Islamophobia and the system of laws and walls that shut out refugees.
Tahirah, a health worker from Bolton, who was on the march in London, said, “The Tories use scapegoating to take the pressure off them.
“They don’t say, ‘We’ve wrecked the economy’.They say blame the people from outside.”
She added, “They always go for minorities first, but when they attack one person’s rights, it’s your rights next.”
Fighting the rising levels of Islamophobia was a big part of the demonstration in London.
The Tories are ramping up their attacks with the “Prevent” strategy and attacks on Muslim women’s right to wear whatever they choose. The government’s policies and rhetoric are fuelling attacks on the streets.
Hana from north London was marching as part of a “Hands off my Hijab” bloc. “This is about our dignity, the right not to be told what we can wear,” she told Socialist Worker.
“It’s not just about the hijab, it’s about Islamophobia.”
Blythe came from Stoke on Trent to join the protest. She said she came “in solidarity with all the women in Yarl’s Wood fighting deportation, and in solidarity with everyone fighting back again the system.”
There was a widespread sense that there’s something fundamentally wrong with our society—and that we need to fight to change it.
As Jade, a student and Jeremy Corbyn supporter from Wakefield, told Socialist Worker, “Politics isn’t working for many people.
“By being here it feels like we can make a bit of a difference.”
Lucy Masoud from the Fire Brigades Union spoke at the start of the march about the Grenfell fire.
She said, “We know the things that caused that fire. We have to ask why that flammable cladding was used, why weren’t sprinklers fitted and why residents weren’t listened to when they raised concerns.
“Victims didn’t stand a chance as soon as rich people in Kensington and Chelsea decided they didn’t want to look at an ugly building.”
Tottenham MP David Lammy said the demonstration was “sending a message to Jacob Rees-Mogg and Nigel Farage.
“We’re standing up for a Britain we believe in. We’re standing up for those women in Yarl’s Wood who are told they’ll be deported.”
Speaking of the state of racism, he said, “We have not seen anything like this since the 1930s. Do not be cowed, fight for what you believe in and organise, organise, organise.”
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