no state bans

From the editorial of this month’s The Commune

As The Commune went to press we heard news of the government banning protests in five east London boroughs for the entire of September. The ban came in response to calls for a ban on the 3rd September Tower Hamlets demo by the racist English Defence League (EDL).

Anti-fascists who called for this ban were playing with fire. Calls on the state to determine what is acceptable political expression are disastrous: socialists are meant to be the state’s worst enemy! Socialist Worker is officially against state bans, but republished a statement welcoming the ban on the EDL march while attacking the general ban. Yet the two measures clearly went hand-in-hand. Continue reading “no state bans”

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saturday nov 27th, edl demo report

John Tranter attended the latest demonstration against the English Defence League.

EDL 'Sport Are Troops'

Photo credit – trevorjono

Last Saturday, the EDL marched and demonstrated through the Lancashire city of Preston, congregating on the Flagmarket and marching back down Church Street (one of Preston’s main high streets). The demonstration was rowdy and buoyant, extremely loud smoke bombs were thrown at police horses and EDL chants could be heard all over the city centre. During the march back to their coaches, a breakaway group of around 100 attempted to make a break down an alley towards the largely Asian area of Avenham, before being contained by police. Continue reading “saturday nov 27th, edl demo report”

the day the EDL didn’t show up

Richard Price reports on last month’s English Defence League and Islamist provocations in Tower Hamlets and the left’s response. See here for an interview with a Bengali secular activist on the same theme.

In mid-May an event was announced for June 20th at the Troxy Ballroom in Limehouse, Tower Hamlets, organised by the UK-IC (UK –Islamic Conference) (1) . The list of speakers was impressive and global including the likes of the Malaysian Sheikh Hussein Lee. And bigots to a man: and, of course, they are all men.  All of them having been quoted as spouting filth supporting violence and rape against women in marriage, killing gays and violent anti-Jewish racism (2).

Sadly, instead of an immediate reaction of east London progressives to oppose this meeting, the EDL (English Defence League) (3) jumped up and said they would march against the meeting. The EDL are an odd crew, a few right wing libertarians ideologically against Islamic conservatism, a few neo-Nazis trying to ferment race riots, but what appears to be a majority who are ‘British loyalists’ i.e. working class conservatives, who support the notion of a ‘Great Britain’ and will fight for that, who, while ignoring the massive loss of power neo-liberalism has wrought on us, are panicked by the almost irrelevant threat of Islamism in the UK.  On the one hand it says it is simply against Islamism and the threat to British liberalism brought by that but its attacks on Islamism end up looking pretty much like scapegoating all Muslims, deeply dangerous in a period when we need to be united against the state as it attacks. Continue reading “the day the EDL didn’t show up”

the EDL and the islamist far-right

Last month the English Defence League announced plans to march in Tower Hamlets, East London, in protest at an Islamist conference planned for June 20th at the Troxy centre. The conference was planned by groups tied to Islamic Forum Europe, among the major Islamist groups in the area.

Anti-racists planned to demonstrate against the EDL: but the SWP-run Unite Against Fascism and its front group United East End insisted this should be on the basis of uncritical support for — and collaboration with — the conference organisers. This meant whitewashing the worst religious fundamentalists and supporting their right to represent the Bengali community in the borough.

While the conference was ultimately cancelled by the Troxy centre, and the EDL abandoned their march, UAF held their demo regardless. Here local Bengali secular activist Ansar Ahmed Ullah reflects on the episode. Continue reading “the EDL and the islamist far-right”