More than 5,000 black, white and Asian people surged through central London today on a Unite Against Fascism (UAF) march against racism.
It follows the worrying rise of the racist English Defence League (EDL) and attempts by the British National Party (BNP)to make gains after their poor showing at the elections.
Students from colleges, schools and universities joined the protest, alongside trade unionists and other activists from across Britain.
A group of young Asians from Birmingham came down together. ‘We are here against racism and to defend multiculturalism,’ one told Socialist Worker.
‘We’ve had the EDL in Birmingham,’ said another, ‘Challenging it made us stronger and more determined to fight back..’
Rory Malone, branch secretary of the Dundee City Unison branch, brought a delegation on the protest.
‘We came today to send a clear message from across Britain that the EDL and BNP aren’t welcome,’ he told Socialist Worker.
‘The Scottish Defence League want to come to Dundee next March. But we have organised such a strong united response-involving trade unions, students and other local people-that we hear they may not come.’
Two school students from east London, Thaaibah and Sabina, were also on the protest.
‘For us coming on the demo started out as part of a school project on fighting fascism,’ Sabina told Socialist Worker. ‘We realised that the past is linked to today and the threat isn’t over.’
Thaaibah added, ‘We don’t want to live in a society where we are attacked because of the colour of our skin or our religion – that’s why we are here.’
Dave Plummer, a civil service worker from London, said that there is a real possibility that the cuts could lead to racist scapegoating.
‘The BNP feed off the division that the cuts can cause and that the media puts out all the time’, he said. ‘But we have to get across the message that we need massive unity on our side to beat the cuts.’
The noisy, vibrant demonstration marched through central London, past Downing Street to Parliament. A mobile Love Music Hate Racism (LMHR) sound system provided rhythm along the route.
Protesters chanted anti cuts slogans including ‘unemployment and inflation are not caused by immigration – bullshit, come off it the enemy is profit!’
At the end of the demo protesters listened to speeches and music from anti-racist performers.
Martin Smith, UAF steering committee member and LMHR organiser told the crowd, ‘Across Europe leaders like Angela Merkel in Germany and Nicolas Sarkozy in France are whipping up racism. Merkel says multiculturalism has failed and blames migrants – she is a racist. Sarkozy attacks the Roma and women who choose to wear the veil – he is a racist.
‘In Britain, David Cameron and his friend Nick Clegg want to whip up division to push through the cuts. And their monkey is the racist EDL – violent thugs and Islamophobes’
Martin demanded our right to march if the EDL threaten to protest saying, ‘If you give an inch to fascists they will come for more – we must not give an inch. We have to stand together, united.’
The UAF march was supported by the TUC and MCB and hundreds of trade union branches and MPs.
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