By Sarah Ensor
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Workers in Woolwich refuse to be divided by racist EDL

This article is over 10 years, 11 months old
Issue 2355
Part of a 1,000-strong anti-racist protest in Newcastle last Saturday

Part of a 1,000-strong anti-racist protest in Newcastle last Saturday (Pic: Ray Smith)

Trade unionists, socialists, and anti-racists were out campaigning against racism in Woolwich, south east London, last Saturday. 

A soldier was killed there on Wednesday of last week.

The racist English Defence League (EDL) has tried to use the killing to divide people and attack Muslims. But many people are determined to stop them.

Woolwich social worker Rachel Sam-Jolly told Socialist Worker that her friends had warned her not to go out. 

“I was scared initially but I won’t let the EDL put fear in me,” she said. “We have to stand together.”

People in Woolwich were worried about the racism that has followed the killing. 

One man said, “There are racist comments everywhere. They’re judging a whole religion by two people.”

Another woman added that she knew three people in the EDL. “The EDL cause trouble,” she said. 

“My grandchild’s half Nigerian and I’ve got Muslim friends and they’re nothing like the EDL says.”

Rob Colvin, a Woolwich firefighter was out on Saturday campaigning against the threatened closure of London fire stations. 

He said, “It’s incredibly sad that people are attacking mosques. 


“You can’t tar everyone with the same brush—and it’s out of order attacking innocent people.”

Anti-racists were also out across Britain. 

In Manchester, councilor John Hughes joined around 100 Unite Against Fascism (UAF) supporters to confront an EDL gang.

Nazis harassed Socialist Worker sellers in Leeds–but failed to stop them campaigning.

“The Nazis ripped papers out of people’s hands then marched off,” said Steve, who was on the sale. “We actually sold a few more papers because people were coming up asking what was going on.”

When York Mosque received threats that the EDL would attack it last Sunday, it responded by opening its doors and holding a tea party.

In an impressive show of solidarity, up to 200 people visited the mosque during the afternoon. 

Four racists stood outside with a St George’s flag—but they weren’t able to spoil the party.


UAF issued a statement for unity last Thursday. 

Over 1,000 people signed it within days, including Labour Party branches and trade unions from south east London.

Hundreds of people converged on Downing Street on Monday of this week to hand in the statement—and to stop the 1,000 EDL supporters marching down Whitehall.

“We have to stand up to the EDL,” said Weyman Bennett for UAF.

“We have to mobilise  everyone against them. Our message is, you racist scum shall not pass.”

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