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A new far-right movement is a threat to all of us and we must unite and drive it back

Racism must be challenged head on and that means taking on myths peddled by the far right, says SABBY DHALU

THE international rise of the far right continued and deepened further this week with the Brazilian Social Liberal Party’s Jair Bolsonaro gaining over 46 per cent of the vote in the first round of the presidential election.

Bolsonaro is the candidate favoured by Donald Trump and the international alt-right, which is co-ordinating a far-right movement in the US, Europe and Britain. 

Steve Bannon, the main architect of the international alt-right movement, recently met senior Tories, Michael Gove, Boris Johnson and Jacob Rees-Mogg. 

This movement is also politically, organisationally and financially supporting the “Free Tommy Robinson” violent street movement. 

The so-called Democratic Football Lads Alliance (DFLA) is a key part of this movement and is marching today in central London. 

Just like the English Defence League (EDL), which was previously led by Robinson, the DFLA uses football hooligan firms to whip up Islamophobia and racism to build a far-right fascist movement. It has supporters from across the far right, including ex-neonazi terror group Combat 18 members.

The recent violent attack on RMT assistant general secretary Steve Hedley and other trade unionists and anti-fascists, the attack on Bookmarks, the Finsbury Park terrorist attack on Muslims in 2017, the murder of Jo Cox in 2016 and further attacks on Gurdwaras (Sikh temples) and mosques, show that the rise of the far right and fascism is not something to take lightly and why we must unite against this threat. 

Recently we marked the 82nd anniversary of the Battle of Cable Street. That day reminds us that unity against fascism and racism is one of the most important lessons of history, when the people of the East End — trade unionists, Jews, socialists and communists — together stood up to Oswald Mosley’s British Union of Fascists and prevented them from wreaking havoc in Whitechapel. 

As TUC general secretary Frances O’Grady recently wrote: “We can stop the far right in its tracks by uniting working people … wherever the far right marches or tries to attack mosques and synagogues, the trade union movement will be there, defending the places we live and work.” 

This new far-right movement is a threat to all of us and we must unite and drive it back. That means standing up to them when they march.

Far-right racists and fascists have grown on the back of a wave of the most vicious Islamophobia, anti-semitism and racism that has grown alongside austerity and the attack on the living standards of the majority of people in this country. 

Racism must be challenged head on and that means taking on myths peddled by the far right. 

DFLA demonstrations whip up hatred against the Muslim community by demonising Islam as a terrorist religion and linking sexual abuse and exploitation to Muslim and Pakistani communities, when such crimes are committed by a range of different people — including the far right.

Conveniently, rape, paedophilia and sexual abuse within the far right’s own ranks is ignored. This week leading member of the EDL Peter Gillet was sentenced to 18 years after being convicted of several counts of rape, indecent assault, actual bodily harm, gross indecency and child cruelty of various children between the ages of eight to 15. 

Focusing on criminals of a Pakistani background and not those directly linked to the far right reveals the DFLA’s cynical hypocrisy and shows that its real agenda is not concern for survivors and rooting out sexual abuse. 

The false claim that only Muslim or Pakistani men are committing rape, sexual abuse and exploitation must be exposed and confronted. The DFLA is using this myth to march today to spread Islamophobia and build its street movement. 

Rape, paedophilia and sexual abuse and exploitation are abhorrent crimes that must be driven from our society, irrespective of the backgrounds of the perpetrators and victims. The anti-racist movement stands with the survivors and calls for justice for such crimes. 

The right, from the Tory government with its “hostile environment,” to violent far-right street thugs, are using racism and Islamophobia in an attempt to divide the left when it is at its strongest.

Tory-imposed austerity will not be brought to an end through the scapegoating of immigrants and other communities.

Therefore we must defend Jeremy Corbyn’s anti-austerity and anti-racist leadership of the Labour Party and stand up to racism from the government and far right. 

Today Stand up to Racism has organised a counter-demonstration to the DFLA. We will assemble at 1pm, Old Palace Yard and will march to Whitehall where the DFLA demonstration will end. 

We will be joined by Labour MP Emma Dent Coad, Unite the Union regional secretary Peter Kavanagh, Louise Regan and Alex Kenny from the NEU, London Assembly member Unmesh Desai, David Rosenberg from the Jewish Socialist Group, TUC race equality officer Wilf Sullivan, Taranjit Chana from GMB London Region, Momentum’s Yannis Gourtsoyannis and many others. 

We are delighted that a range of organisations and individuals are building this event, including Unite the Union, RMT, Momentum, Owen Jones, London Young Labour, Muslim, Jewish and other faith groups and many others. This will be a safe event and we urge all anti-fascists to join us in unity.

Sabby Dhalu is co-convener of Stand Up To Racism and Unite Against Fascism joint secretary.

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