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Fascist EDL must be stopped

The EDL presence in Tower Hamlet on 3 September needs to confronted with a mass community mobilisation, writes Dan Edmonds

ON 3 SEPTEMBER the fascist English Defence League (EDL) are threatening to march in what their website calls the “heart of the UK’s most militant Islamic area”- Tower Hamlets in London’s East End. They are aping Oswald Mosley and his Blackshirts’ attempt to terrorise the Jewish population of the same area in 1936. In the famous Battle of Cable Street he was stopped – despite police attempts to clear a way. Today it is the EDL who must be greeted with the same cry They Shall Not Pass. A massive response is needed – not just from the Muslim communities of the East End but also from the labour movement of London, indeed of the whole country.
When the EDL tried to march through East London in June last year, they were forced to cancel just a few days before the event, admitting it would be ‘suicide’ to march through the area because of the resistance they knew they would face. On the day just a dozen or so fascists turned up to face a counter-demo of thousands.

The mobilisation that defeated the EDL in Bradford on 28 August 2010 was another great example of how anti-fascism could be successful in practice. In the face of such defeats and splits amongst its northern activists and resignations from leading members, they have turned to demonstrating in smaller towns and organising regional mobilisations and flash-mobs, like Halifax, Cambridge, Derby, Blackpool, and Luton. This shows that we need a nationwide militant antifascist organisation ready to confront hem wherever they turn up.

The roots of Islamophobia
When Anders Behring Breivik murdered over 70 people in Norway in July, the press puzzled over where the ideas in his manifesto for mass murder came from. In fact there was no need to research obscure websites. These ideas are the common coin of Geert Wilders’ Freedom Party in Holland, the Austrian Freedom Party, the Sweden Democrats, and – yes – the EDL Breivik emailed the EDL to tell them to “keep up the good work” and described himself as engaged in “our common struggle against the islamofascists.”

All these parties and groups share a conspiratorial view of Muslims as plotting to bring the entire world under Sharia law and a unified Islamic state. They aim to stop the spread of Islam by preventing mosques being built and ridding Europe of Islam, i.e. of its Muslim population. Furthermore, they accuse both the far left and the parliamentary parties of aiding an Islamist takeover through political correctness and ‘cultural Marxism’. A new wave of European fascist groups based on Islamophobia has grown up, who justify their racist violence and even terrorist acts as defensive measures against the radical Islamic advance. Anti-racist campaigns, communist groups and conservative, liberal and labour parties alike are labelled as ‘traitors’ for refusing to implement violent repression of Islam.

In the countries that formed the anti-Nazi Alliance in World War II, worshiping Hitler and the Nazis was a passport to the political fringe. Most British patriots and even virulent racists would steer clear of such ‘unpatriotic’ stuff. However, this new racist ideology is capable of mobilising beyond the traditional Hitler-worshippers and football hooligans and finds a hearing among wider sections of the population already brainwashed with anti-Muslim propaganda from right-wing broadsheets, such as the Daily Mail, the Express and the Star. This provides more dry tinder to fuel the fires for fascist movements.

The EDL tried to take advantage of the recent London riots to increase support for it’s violent activities. In Enfield, the hastily-formed EDL ‘white shirts’ claimed to be defending the local community, when in fact they used it as a chance to racially abuse and attack local Black and Asian youth. In Eltham, tanked up EDL vigilantes actually clashed with the police they were trying to ‘help against the rioters.’

The EDL have also attacked left-wing meetings across the country and vandalised mosques; ‘the UAF Hunting Club’ has been set up to target meetings of Unite Against Fascism and the SWP. We need to organise within ethnic communities, among trade unionists and the radical youth, to bring into force a powerful movement to see off the EDL thugs whenever they attack or attempt to march. The fascists have their defence league – we need to build an Anti-Fascist Defence League.

If the EDL tries to mobilise its supporters onto the streets of Tower Hamlets, anti-fascists need to act in the tradition of Cable Street. But we also need to remember that the battle against fascism is not solely won on the streets, and that their ideas have to be countered by the socialists and the wider workers’ movement.

We have to be able to give a socialist answer to the crisis. We need to point out how the bankers and speculators crashed their own system, and then pocketed public money to restore their profits. Now they are demanding that the welfare state should be destroyed to pay off state debts.

The racist poison spread about Muslims, asylum-seekers, Eastern European immigrants, and black inner-city youth is meant to divert people from recognising this truth. Its aim is to divide the working class. Therefore, as well as fighting fascism, we have to go to its roots and organise people against the poverty, misery and exploitation of capitalist society. That way we can destroy the conditions which breed support for fascist movements.

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