Thursday, 22 October 2009

Offering anti-fascist and anti-Islamist resistance in London

When Islam for the UK, a front for the Islamist militant group Al-Muhajiroun, announced their intention to "March for Shariah," I called - both here and on Indymedia UK - for opposition to the march. As I said then, "there should be no racial or religious borders beyond which bigotry is immune to resistance" and "it must be met with opposition, not from the fascists of the far-right, but from those whose resistance is grounded in working-class unity, anti-fascism, and anti-capitalism."

In the meantime, the English Defence League (EDL) have announced that they will not be cancelling their Leeds protest on the same day in order to oppose the march. Their stated reasons are that, as they are "engaged in a public education campaign designed to inform people in all parts of the country about the dangers of Islamic extremism and sharia law," the EDL "will maintain its focus and pursue its own agenda with persistence and determination." This will facilitate "the long-term evolution of the EDL into a mainstream pressure group."

Although one might wonder what "educational" purpose the violence of past EDL demonstrations or chants such as "we hate Pakis more than you" might serve, the fact remains that the EDL will remain in Leeds on the day of the protest. However Paul Ray, the Christian fundamentalist head of the EDL: St George Division, has declared October 31st "Judgement Day." Along with football hooligan group Casuals United, will be on the streets to offer a nationalist opposition to Anjem Choudary and his organisation.

As such, it is beginning to look as though London will be overtaken by two rival organisations of reaction. Each will speak to different groups of disaffected and alienated young people, offering them a national and religious interpretation for the negatives in their lives. Hence, the schisms in the working class will grow, and organising effective resistance to the predatory class war waged by the rich becomes more difficult. This is precisely why I sent out my plea that "with an active, reactionary, and highly visible extremist presence on the streets of London that day, the left cannot be silent."

Here, I reiterate it once again.

There is hope. Yesterday, Inayat Bunglawala of ENGAGE made a similar plea in the Guardian. Noting that "both al-Muhajiroun and the EDL are clearly feeding off one another and appear intent on polarising relations between Muslims and non-Muslims," he "contacted the Metropolitan police to obtain permission for a counter-demo. I have no idea how many people will turn up if it goes ahead but I would hope that it won't be too difficult to surpass the numbers mustered by al-Muhajiroun."

This is hardly the radical, anti-authoritarian demonstration that I called for a week ago, but it does offer a starting point. Already, 128 people have signed up to a Facebook event which makes the same call. This does not in any way guarantee that 128 people will turn up anywhere, but it does allow people a jumping off point in lieu of the time for serious oranisation. There is now going to be a presence in London on October 31st that is neither the fascists of the English Defence League nor the Islamic militants of Islam for the UK/al-Muhajiroun.

As such I repeat my plea that the march "must be met with opposition, not from the fascists of the far-right, but from those whose resistance is grounded in working-class unity, anti-fascism, and anti-capitalism." If such an opposition does emerge, then it will not only be able to physically resist Choudary's fanatics, but will significantly defuse the potency of the EDL and Casuals United.