Link to this page: https://www.socialistparty.org.uk/issue/702/13588
Keep the racist EDL out of Leicester
Steve Score, East Midlands Socialist Party
The 'English Defence League' (EDL) is threatening to visit Leicester on Saturday 4 February. The last time they came, in October 2010, they attacked shoppers and smashed city centre shops. They also broke away from police control and attempted to march on Highfields, an area with a large Muslim population.
The only thing that stopped them was a mass mobilisation of local people including up to 2,000 Asian young people. Socialist Party members and other anti-racists stood side by side with the local youth defending their area. At the same time anti-racist protesters who joined the Unite Against Fascism (UAF) rally against the EDL were kettled in by police.
The EDL is a racist organisation that claims to only oppose "Muslim extremism". In reality their actions on such demonstrations as this prove otherwise. They use Muslims as a scapegoat, but try to win support among people who are looking for someone to blame for the problems they face - unemployment, poor services and attacks on living standards.
They aim to divide working class people and must be opposed with a political answer. However because they bring their racist thugs on these 'protests'- the issue of physical defence is necessarily raised.
A counter demonstration has been called by trade unions and UAF, which will be well supported. However, there is concern that people do not want a repeat of last time when the UAF was kettled but the EDL was allowed to attack people. There is also a desire in the local communities for self defence.
The Socialist Party supports the right of self defence of communities, and believes that a mobilisation will be needed in Highfields and St Matthew's on the day. Ideally we need enough people mobilised to defend these areas and to prevent the EDL rampaging through the city centre on the day.
At the time of writing, the exact details are unclear. Last time there was a ban on marches, with the EDL and UAF being allowed 'static rallies'. In addition there was a massive campaign by the police, the council and religious leaders and others to persuade people not to join the counter protests. It is not yet certain whether the same will happen again.
The Socialist Party will be doing our best to get a turnout on the 4th, at the same time we will be raising socialist answers to the problems people face to cut across the EDL's attempt to divide Leicester. For jobs, homes and services not racism!
In The Socialist 25 January 2012:
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