Written by Sonia Gable
On International Women’s Day we salute the courage of Malala Yousafzai, the Pakistani teenager shot in an attempted assassination by the Taleban last October because she was determined to gain an education.
Last month Malala thanked all those who had prayed for her and said: “And because of these prayers God has given me this new life … and this is a second life. And I want to serve. I want to serve the people. I want every girl, every child, to be educated.” She announced the creation of the Malala Fund to support the education and empowerment of girls in Pakistan and around the world.
Islamist extremism, at least in parts of Pakistan, tries to deprive girls of an education: at the time she was shot Malala was already in the process of forming an organisation to get girls into school. In countries such as Saudi Arabia and Iran, women are not allowed to play a full part in society and suffer unacceptable restrictions on their liberty, deprived of control over their own lives. Even in Egypt, following the Arab spring which initially promised hope, now morality police patrol the streets imposing “virtue”.Add a comment
Last Updated on Friday, 08 March 2013 17:31
Written by Simon Hartley and David Eastland
Beginning with an assembly at Piccadilly Gardens, a sunny day greeted people with a sunny disposition from Greater Manchester, who were united to stop the fascist EDL.
An eclectic mix of about 700 people assembled in the Gardens, despite earlier calls from 18 city leaders telling local people to show solidarity by staying at home and ignoring the far right and what they were doing to their community. This is the kind of nonsense that needs to be stamped out, boots on streets is the way to deal with fascism, turning your back and ignoring them can only lead to a bottle in the back of the head or knife between the shoulder blades.
Hope not Hate reported in January that they were working closely with Manchester City Council to oppose those who bring hatred to the city’s streets. Shortly before the EDL march Ed Miliband, the Labour leader, backed the call to ignore the march. His perverse reasoning was that groups such as the EDL would not pose a threat to Labour votes. What about the threat to the local multicultural community?
In line with this, Hope Not Hate did not join the protest against the EDL but held a vigil in Manchester Cathedral on Friday evening to celebrate the city’s diversity. If they honestly felt that that showed Manchester’s multiculturalism or in any way affected the violent thugs who attended today’s protest then they are seriously deluded.
The turnout was all the more impressive when you realise it was taking place on the same day as the Unite Against Fascism (UAF) national conference in London, something that the far right knew and hoped would split our ranks.
Speakers from various trade unions, including PCS, Unison and the National Union of Journalists, along with delegates from UAF, the Socialist Workers Party and the English Disco Lovers focused on the need to get out on the streets and to show the fascists that they were outnumbered. UAF Greater Manchester took a lead role in this defence against the Nazis and was represented by its chair Mike Killian and its joint secretary Rhetta Moran during the speeches.
Speaker and local councillor Daniel Gillard said: “You’ve all come down here today to make things better. You haven’t come here because I told you to, and certainly not because others told you not to be here. You’re here because you know that turning up, being counted and speaking out against fascism, racism and violence is the right thing to do.”
Local councillor Pat Karney added: “I saw the faces of the EDL when they came and saw the compound that they were going into and they weren’t that happy and I think they’ll remember the kind of reception they have received in Manchester.”
There was a carnival atmosphere in the air as the march began, and as we made our way to Albert Square in the midday sun, chants of “EDL go to Hell, take your Nazi mates as well” began to erupt vociferously throughout the crowd. The streets were full of the multiculturalism Manchester has become renowned for, and as we reached Albert Square the pens that would become our homes for the next few hours came into view.
The sun continued to shine, and the pitiful early showing from the EDL and affiliated Nazis kept spirits high as dancing, music and drumming filled the early afternoon sky. Late and drunk as usual, the national calling of fascists, numbering about 500, stumbled into the pen. They then proceeded to urinate against the barriers, scream ethnic slurs and attempt to rip down the barricading, another showing of the non-violent nature of this group. Once their inane attempts to attack inanimate metal fencing failed they turned their attention to the police, launching glass bottles and verbal tirades at those that were penning them in. The war of attrition had started, but the EDL could only retain its followers for a pitiful hour and a half before they were shuttled back to Manchester’s train stations, at the taxpayer’s expense.
Anti-fascists remained in Albert Square until all the EDL had been completely removed. A march of triumph was then completed by the remaining anti-fascists back to Piccadilly Gardens. The EDL attempted to regroup in a nearby Wetherspoons, but when the drunken rabble emerged they were met by a united front who pushed them back towards the pub. They were then forced inside the Wetherspoons by charging police horses, then the shutters were closed and they were trapped. Half an hour later the shutters were reopened for the fascists to leave.
Rhetta Moran told us after the event: “The people of Manchester have done their city proud, and showed how you must always challenge and face the EDL wherever they rear their ugly head, and this goes for fascists everywhere.”
It must be recognised that anti-fascists were again helped today by infighting among the far-right factions. This time it was the Northern Casuals who were on the prowl for the remnants of the North West Infidels, their newly designated enemy. If all the fascists had joined together for this demo their numbers could have easily reached much higher than 500.
Though today was a victory for anti-fascists, complacency must not be allowed to creep in. Five hundred for a national callout may seem small but for the currently fractured far right was a good showing. We must remember our responsibility always to oppose fascist threats and not rest on our laurels. Chris Rea, chair of the Manchester and Salford NUJ chapel, chorused this need when he told us that “it is extremely important to stand up against the EDL. We as the majority must stand up against racism and fascism.”
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Last Updated on Sunday, 03 March 2013 18:43
Written by Sonia Gable
Stephen Lennon has been released from prison less than seven weeks after he was sentenced for possession of a false identity document with improper intention. Lennon, who calls himself Tommy Robinson in his role as leader of the English Defence League, was jailed for ten months on 7 January but immediately applied for release on home detention curfew, which means he is electronically tagged and has other restrictions.
Announcing the news yesterday evening, the EDL said Robinson would like to spend time with his family now and asked supporters to “respect his wish for privacy, and respect his need for a little time away from the EDL so he can get his life back on track”.
His request may be motivated more by a wish not to break the conditions for his release, which probably include not attending EDL protests. Supporters who hope to see him in Cambridge tomorrow or Manchester on 2 March are likely to be disappointed.
Last Updated on Friday, 22 February 2013 11:48
Written by Sonia Gable
The far-right and loyalist campaigner Jim Dowson has been arrested in east Belfast this afternoon by police investigating offences linked to protests over the flying of the Union Flag from Belfast City Hall.
The arrest of Dowson, the administration manager of the tiny fascist Britain First outfit, follows those of two other loyalist campaigners, Willie Frazer and Jamie Bryson. Frazer, who races six charges linked to the ongoing flag protests, has been refused bail. Bryson, 23, who was arrested yesterday, is being questioned on suspicion of public order offences.
Dowson was the British National Party’s fundraiser who raised hundreds of thousands of pounds for the party until he parted company acrimoniously with its leader Nick Griffin in autumn 2010, leaving it with huge debts. He became so involved with its financial arrangements that Searchlight said he virtually owned the BNP.
Since Belfast City Council voted on 3 December to limit the flying of the Union Flag to 20 days a year, Dowson has been helping to stir up loyalist protests, keenly boosting his own profile and income in the process. Britain First’s chairman Paul Golding has also visited Belfast for the protests.
Dowson brought some of his loyalist friends to London on 16 February for a “Defend the Union Flag on all British Soil” march and rally in central London. Around 120 people turned out for the event organised by Paul Pitt, chairman of the South East Alliance and former Essex organiser of the English Defence League, and Dave Smeeton, organiser of the March for England outfit. Assorted dregs from the EDL, Casuals and Infidels marched along Whitehall to Parliament where they listened to a series of speakers including Dowson, Golding and Smeeton.
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Last Updated on Friday, 01 March 2013 17:49
Written by Gerry Gable
Having been barred from the Boleyn Tavern in Newham the Nazis are making a later start at the Upper Clapton Rugby Club in Upland Road, Thornwood, Essex, telephone 01992 572588. Disgracefully, they have booked it as a gig for the charity Help for Heroes. Dozens of drunken Polish fascists have been left behind in Newham.Add a comment
Last Updated on Saturday, 16 February 2013 17:33