Taking back the streets from the Fascists

12 Oct

Thousands of people marched against fascism on Saturday, Oct. 10th 2000. “Diversity is what makes the world beautiful”, said Abby; a Manchester Metropolitan University student. People from Manchester and Liverpool (later on, London) arrived to confront the English Defence League and their supporters, which only numbered 300. Last Saturday the anti-fascist presence overshadowed the bile of the EDL, with the beauty and force of our diversity; which was illustrated by, as one Asian supporter observantly exclaiming, “We have more white people than you do”! In short, the day belonged to the protestors, not simply because of our racial, religious, and diverse personal backgrounds, but it was also our politics and the formidable presence among a massive police and paltry EDL presence.

The student rally proceeded as the first manoeuvre of the day at 11:45am, which presented itself as a contingent of 70-100 students, youth and community supporters blazed through Oxford rd. After 12:00pm the student contingent joined the main demonstration, which later pushed against the police lines, and thereafter the demonstration would become a convention. Despite the lack of discipline from unaffiliated protestors who wanted to fight, and no support from Local Labour leaders and their allied Imam’s we realized the slogan: Black, Asian, and White, UNITE! SMASH THE EDL”! Unfortunately, according to the Manchester Evening News and the Times, 44 people were arrested and 10 seriously injured, however 2000 remained committed to opposing them and around 5pm (the official end of their permitted demonstration). Despite, the residual EDL watchers and earlier crowd infiltrators, the anti-fascist activists safely left in groups. From the student rally, to the tripartite challenge of the police blockade, to confrontations with the EDL, and to the rally featuring vibrant speakers; the EDL was shamed and their message, neutered.

The English Defence League’s platform is one based on “opposing radical Islam” which manifests itself as attacks on Muslim communities; for example, the desecration of sacred property (i.e. – desecrated graves in a S. Manchester cemetery). In a off-the cuff discussion with an EDL member and a more official discussion with an Air Conditioning Engineer named Mark (29 years old, unaffiliated, yet shares EDL’s views), one begins to understand that the narrative of the EDL appeals partially to the uneducated working class; for example, when asked about Immigration laws he stated: “We should shut the borders.’ ‘England is too small”. The EDL uses the fear of disenfranchisement and of “radical Islam” to entice people like Mark to eventually join their ranks. However, it is plain fact that their philistinism only inspires EDL and anti-Muslim/ immigrant hate.

In refection, the protest was worth it; the community took control of its streets and stood on the side of social justice. The EDL proselytise that England is coming to an end; conversely, it is our job as activists to educate and to continue to agitate to take the wool from over their eyes. As opposed their racist football hooliganism; we all can unite against their daily conditions of disenfranchisement.

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