Nearly 1000 English Defence League supporters protested on 9 October in Humberstone Gate, Leicester, while organised gangs of their supporters wandered across the city provoking confrontation with Asian youths.
Unfortunately, again, the official counter-protest called by the UAF was a minor (around 300 strong) and embarrassing sideshow. UAF’s leaflet explicitly counselled Asian youth to refrain from engaging in physical confrontation, that is, from self-defence against the EDL.
Yet about 2,500 other anti-racists were out on the streets opposing the EDL. The vast majority were Muslim and other black and Asian people in the Highfields district of the city. The rest were from uncoordinated socialist and anarchist groups.
A number of the anti-EDL people, acting independently from the UAF, were able to respond in kind to the EDL attacks. But the racist intimidation and violence of the EDL was very real and very frightening to many Asian people going about their daily business that day. Such organised racist intimidation cannot be allowed to happen again.
At one point around 300 EDLers pushed through police lines and chased local Asian youths and other anti-fascists. The police eventually were able to regain some control over the EDL breakaway but had the EDL made their way further up into Highfields they would not have fared well. Hundreds of local people in the area had been out on their streets all day, and these numbers grew to about 2,000 as word of the EDL spread.
The main organising force was undoubtedly religious groupings around the mosque, particularly the Muslim Defence League.
It is to be condemned that the only people to join them were small number of activists, mainly from the Stop Racism and Fascism network and the very recently formed and still small Leicester United Against Racism campaign.
The violent racism of the EDL will not be stopped by the police. It will not be stopped by prayers or multi-racial carnivals either.
The EDL will be stopped by anti-racists of all races and ethnic backgrounds, who are not embarrassed to identify themselves as a working-class force, taking to the streets. We can not only defend the Muslim areas, but stop the EDL from sending their racist gangs across the city as was so successfully done in Bradford.
But that takes organisation. It takes refuting the nonsensical arguments raised by Hope not Hate and UAF. It means building accountable local campaigns of working class anti-racists. Importantly, it means building those campaigns even more energetically and widely when the EDL threaten to march.
• Stop Racism and Fascism Network is attempting to do that, along with the Scottish Anti-Fascist Alliance