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TRADE unionists blamed Boris Johnson for fuelling a “spike in hate crime,” as crowds of local people defended a Manchester mosque against far-right provocation at the weekend.
About 100 people gathered outside Didsbury mosque in south Manchester after far-right activists organised by the Football Lads Alliance (FLA) called a protest against Islam.
The counterdemonstration, jointly organised by Unite Against Fascism and Stand Up To Racism, sought to defend the local Muslim community from the FLA, but the fascists failed to turn up.
Local solicitor and Labour activist Robert Lizar told the crowd: “We stand together,” adding: “The fight against Islamophobia and anti-semitism come from the same source and must be opposed.”
However, Unison black members north-west secretary Ameen Hadi laid the blame at the door of the former foreign secretary, who described Muslim women wearing the niqab as looking like “letter boxes” in a Daily Telegraph article.
He said: “The reason there has been a spike in hate crime against Muslim women in the last few weeks is because of Boris Johnson. He is to blame for what’s going on.
“The far right think they can capitalise on this. They try to blame Muslims for everything. We have to expose their lies.
“Terrorism has no religion and no creed. They are trying to demonise Muslims in society, just as Jews were demonised in the 1930s.”
Labour national executive committee member Yasmine Dar and local Labour councillor Rabnawaz Akbar also joined the demonstration.
Unite Against Fascism north-west organiser Paul Jenkins said anti-fascists would continue to work alongside trade unions and community groups to “mobilise against the fascists and the far right wherever they try to organise.”
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