Ban or no ban, we will stand together to defend the city on 28 August, writes Mark L Thomas
Local opposition is growing to the racist English Defence League’s plan for a racist riot through Bradford on Saturday 28 August.
The EDL call their planned march “the big one”. Their aim is to intimidate the city’s large Muslim population and stoke up violent racial hatred.
In Stoke earlier this year they went on the rampage attacking shops and homes in a Muslim area.
The EDL then showed their general racism by smashing a Hindu temple’s windows during a demonstration in Dudley in July.
So trade unionists, faith groups and others in Bradford Unite Against Fascism (UAF) are backing the “We are Bradford” anti-racist event that day, to show that the EDL are not welcome.
“We’ve been doing stalls and talking to people about why we need to oppose the EDL,” UAF activist Luke Staunton told Socialist Worker.
“We’ve been getting a really good response—and it’s not just from Asian people. Lots of white people signed our petition too.
“People want to do something about the EDL coming here.
“We need numbers—when the EDL are opposed by large numbers there isn’t a problem.”
A statement backing the event is gathering support.
The National Union of Teachers in Bradford voted to adopt it at a branch meeting. Teacher Dennis White said, “All but one person of the 25 or so there voted for it after some discussion.”
Aki Nawaz of hip-hop group Fun-Da-Mental, who is from Bradford, is another signatory to the statement.
He said, “On 28 August, Bradford—as a whole community—must lead the way by displaying its opposition to the racist thugs of the EDL.
“We will prove that Bradford is united against them. We must come out and make history once again.”
It is almost certain that there will be no ban on a static protest by the EDL in Bradford. Those who argued this was the “only option” and rejected any counter-protest have been forced to think again.
The campaign group Hope not Hate met Tory home secretary Theresa May last week along with several Bradford councillors to ask for a ban.
But they now suggest a peace vigil on the night before the EDL demo.
While all opposition to the EDL is welcome, it is vital that the anti-racist majority don’t abandon the city centre to fascist thugs on the Saturday.
It’s crucial the “We are Bradford” event goes ahead and is a big as possible.
Transport to the city is being organised across Britain, from Hastings to Dundee. UAF is calling for people to gather at Bradford’s Centenary Square in the city centre from 12 noon—and demanding that the police allow this.
“We are Bradford” event: 12 noon, Saturday 28 August, Centenary Square, Bradford city centre. To sign the statement in support and for a list of transport go to www.uaf.org.uk
Socialist Worker sellers saw off up to 30 EDL supporters who tried to intimidate them as they held their weekly stall in Bolton last Saturday.
Neil McAlister said, “One of them tried to grab our papers, but we stood our ground and shouted at them as they left.”