Some 400 anti-racists gathered in Rotherham today, Saturday, to oppose the Nazis and remember a murdered man.
It was a fantastic show of strength. And many felt the turnout marked a breakthrough in the battle against racism in the South Yorkshire town.
Protesters gathered in All Saint’s Square. They paid their respects to Mushin Ahmed, an 81 year old Muslim who died recently after being attacked in Rotherham.
And they showed their opposition to the Nazis of Britain First, who drew no more than 170 to a racist march.
Local resident Shakoor told Socialist Worker, “This is not just about the death of Mushin Ahmed. It could’ve been any one of us. It’s about a racist ideology.
“I’m Rotherham born and bred and I can feel that the racists are emboldened. But we’re not going to be divided.”
Haroon Rashid was brought up just a few minutes from where Mushin was attacked.
He told Socialist Worker, “All he was doing was going to mosque. I’ve lived all my life in Rotherham and everyone got on.
“There weren’t problems with racism. People are shocked at the attack.”
Various racist and fascist groups have descended on Rotherham after a 2014 report into child abuse in the town.
The racists want to blame this on Islam and their presence has helped to whip up racism.
The anti-racist protest, called by Unite Against Fascism and backed by community groups, was boosted by big numbers of Asian people.
They feel enough is enough.
Sixteen year old Haleem said it was time that Muslims spoke out. “We’re used to our elders telling us to stay at home,” he told Socialist Worker. “My relatives told me not to come today. Some said it wouldn’t make any difference.
“But they should see what we can do when we stand united.”
Police disgracefully facilitated the racists’ march to the town hall. But Britain First leader Paul Golding had to admit to the flag-waving crowd that they were “heavily outnumbered”.
Cops tried to provoke anti-racists by riding horses into the square. Many were determined to stand their ground.
And anti-racists stressed the need to keep fighting.
“Things have got worse because of the racists,” said local resident Syed Hussain. “We need to stand up.”
Iris is a Unison union member working at Rotherham council. She told Socialist Worker, “We’ve had the English Defence League and Britain First shouting at us, calling us paedophiles.
“I thought, these people can’t keep coming here and intimidating us. I know there’s some controversy and some in the council said don’t go, it’ll just be trouble.
“But if the fascists take to the streets, we have to take to the streets.”
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