Sunday, July 10, 2011

Bad Day For British Fascists

by Rory MacKinnon

From: Morning Star

Anti-fascists turned out in their thousands to rout the Islamophobic English Defence League at marches across England on Saturday.

The league, whose leadership is riddled with former members of the far-right British National Party, bussed in supporters from across the country to parade through city centres - but found local anti-racist groups ready and waiting.

In Cambridge more than a thousand counter-protesters from Unite Against Fascism, Hope Not Hate and the city's trades council routed a march by some 350 league supporters.

Eyewitnesses said that many of the counter-protesters stayed behind to protect the Petersfield mosque, while local shopkeepers handed out samosas and drinks.

Police described the event as "largely peaceful" but arrested three EDL members on suspicion of being drunk and disorderly, as well as for affray and public order offences, one racially aggravated.

Meanwhile 150 league marchers in Plymouth found themselves outflanked by a counter-protest at least twice their size.

East of England MEP Richard Howitt told participants that the EDL was not welcome in Plymouth.

"We cannot let the poison of their ideas seep into the body of our community."

"I am proud to live and work in this most international of cities, where one in 10 of my neighbours comes from black or ethnic minority communities," he said.

Police at the league's march made six arrests on charges ranging from suspicion of posession of an offensive weapon, assault occasioning actual bodily harm, cannabis possession and breach of the peace.

One officer suffered a dislocated shoulder and several league members were pinned to the ground by police after the crowd began throwing bottles at counter protesters.

In Middlesbrough around 400 activists and members of the Muslim community defended a local mosque in Waterloo Rd from 200 ED: members at a nearby rally.

And in Halifax more than 200 anti-fascists took on around 450 league members, five of whom were arrested on suspicion of possession of an offensive weapon or public order offences.

Elsewhere anti-fascist events went ahead in Liverpool, Dagenham and Derby even after local league divisions cancelled their events in the face of massive public opposition.

A Unite Against Fascism spokesman said the weekend's events marked a great step forward for the anti-fascism movement.

But he said the group wanted to land a "decisive blow" against the EDL with a series of national demonstrations on September 3.

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