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East London community demands action after racist attacks
Moshin Ahmed, Tower Hamlets Socialist Party
Over 100 local residents, including 20 who couldn't get in, packed the Berner Community Centre in Tower Hamlets, east London, on 2 July, angry about a number of recent attacks on local Muslim people.
Some of the attacks have been with acid, causing horrific burns. Others have targeted Muslim women by pulling off their veils.
The meeting was organised by residents from the Berner Estate, who invited the Labour mayor of Tower Hamlets, John Biggs, who replaced the previous mayor Luthfur Rahman, undemocratically removed through the courts by the Tories.
The mood of the meeting was that the council hadn't done enough to protect the community from hate crimes. Muslim people always appear to be the target of these attacks. They wanted reassurances from the police and the council. But Biggs blamed the funding cuts from central government.
"Use the reserves"
Incredibly for a Blairite, he said: "We have to wait for a Corbyn government to scrap the cuts"!
But one of the independent councillors revealed that the council has millions in their reserves. Immediately, people were surprised and then demanded that the reserves be used to resource more police. But this demand was ignored by Biggs.
The Socialist Party would say, for example, why can the council not use its reserves to fund community wardens - as well as funding the much-needed services that have been savagely cut back?
The Socialist Party has been to the forefront in campaigning for the Labour council to refuse to implement any more Tory cuts.
It's vital that the labour and trade union movement plays a key role in uniting working class people to ensure that the racists can't sow division and isolate and threaten the Muslim community. In the aftermath of the London Bridge attack, the far-right racists of Britain First have been provocatively going to the nearby East London Mosque, although every time being chased away.
There is a growing feeling of local people to get organised to defend themselves because of a lack of confidence in the council. The council should be pressurised to act by a campaign. This can include lobbying the council to force them to use their reserves and stand with the community against the racists and the Tory cutters.
In the 1990s in Tower Hamlets, the BNP (British National Party), who won a council seat on the Isle of Dogs, were defeated by the mass mobilisation of young people and trade unionists, including occupying the site of their 'paper sale' in Brick Lane.
This mobilisation also called for 'jobs and homes not racism'. With the help of Youth Against Racism, supported by Militant (now the Socialist Party) local people organised a whistle alarm defence campaign.
We need to mobilise working class people in Tower Hamlets and throughout east London, where other attacks have happened, to defeat the racists, pressure the council to stop the cuts, and fight to defeat the Tory government.
- Tower Hamlets and East London Socialist Party meeting: Action needed against racist attacks - fight for services, jobs and homes. Thursday 6 July, 7.30pm, Oxford House in Bethnal Green, E2 6HG