The racist EDL (English Defence League) are organising a static protest in Leicester – one of the most successful examples of a multicultural city in Europe – on Saturday 9th October. Yet the council say that we should keep out of the city centre on that day. Instead, they are organising – along with Hope Not Hate – a peace vigil and community festival on the Friday and Sunday. I think that by all means people should attend the peace vigil and community festival, but they should also turn up on the Saturday itself. The EDL are bullies and we need to stand up to them.
The alternative to confronting to racist groups like the EDL is to allow them free rein of the streets of Leicester. If they are unopposed on the day, then in their minds, the EDL will have won. If they break out of the police lines, as has happened in other cities, they could attack mosques, shops and temples across the city as they have done elsewhere. I think we need to show as a community that we refuse to be intimidated by the bullies of the far right.
The EDL is made up of football hooligans, fascists, racists and people who are angry at the cuts being made by the government, for which they are blaming Muslims in particular. The people of Leicester, themselves, need to show the EDL that they cannot be allowed to drive a wedge between different communities. We need to build a united movement of people from all backgrounds in order to defend our jobs and services.
A united opposition to racism in Leicester will humiliate the EDL. Their hangers-on might lose confidence and question why the views of the EDL are so unpopular. It is also necessary to put forward an alternative political view – that we all need to unite together to fight for a better society and not let the far right divide us. We can only do this by gathering together in protest on the Saturday itself. Distraction events like the peace vigil and the community festival, although these are good ways of getting people together and celebrating diversity, leave the door open on the Saturday to the racist thugs and hooligans of the EDL.
I am joining Unite Against Fascism’s demonstration, as part of the Jobs and Services not Racism contingent – meeting outside Virgin Media by the Clocktower at 11.30am on Saturday 9th October.
On the following day, I will be running with a collecting bucket and some copies of “the socialist” in the Leicester Marathon , to raise money for the Socialist Party, which is campaigning against cuts to our public services, thus undercutting support for racism in the first place.