Sunday, 1 November 2009

Al-Muhajiroun and the English Defence League routed by radical left opposition

Islam4UK, the front group of the illegal al-Muhajiroun, announced their 31st October "March for Shariah" on the back of a wave of infamy. The announcement followed a wave of "anti-extremist" marches by the English Defence League, which were not in fact opposition to extremism but an excuse for violence and intimidation against Arab and Muslim people, as well as a platform for seig-heiling Neo-Nazis.

If any proof were needed that Choudary's fanatics fed off the actions of the EDL and their fellow fascists, it came with Islam4UK's "Invitation to the English Defence League." Knowing that the presence of the EDL on the streets of Britain inflamed Muslim opinion, the site sought to encourage it by condemning "incorrect comparisons" and "poor respresentation" for the EDL. They also urged ordinary Muslims to turn away from Unite Against Fascism (UAF) and invited the EDL to "constructive debate." As was the intent, the invitation only gave ammunition to the EDL, who posted Choudary's address to them up on their website and stepped up their activity.

Thus, the seeds of controversy and division were sown and al-Muhajiroon could have their march.

However, immediately after they announced the protest, I put out a call 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. Moreover, that opposition must be one which transcends race and religion."

Soon afterwards, Inayat Bunglawala of ENGAGE and Shaaz Mahboob of British Muslims for Secular Democracy (BMSD) wrote in the Guardian of the need for ordinary Muslims to protest against the Shariah march. The event was called "secular democracy." Later still, the Alliance for Workers' Liberty echoed my original plea, organising a protest that answered the need for "a working-class, anti-capitalist, anti-racist presence that can make a positive case for secularism, workers' unity and common struggle against the far-right communalist reaction of both Islam4UK and the EDL."

Whilst the marches by the EDL had galvanised al-Muhajiroon to organise the march in the first place, the promise of a radical, left-wing, secular opposition all but stopped it in its tracks. Choudary cited "right-wing/anti-Islamic organisations" and "threats of violence" as the reason he "relocated" the march. In reality, his "overwhelming support from the Muslim community" was non-existent, and the organised opposition had come from the radical left. Clearly, seeing his planned "clash of civilisations" unravel in the face of broad-based working class unity, the fanatical cleric was reduced to spin to justify cancelling the march in favour of backroom rant to ever-dwindling numbers of the faithful.

Meanwhile, in Leeds, the fascist hooligans of the English Defence League did turn out on the streets. However, the 900 protesters were more outnumbered by 1,500 antifascists and their protest rendered ineffective for being "kettled" by a massive police cordon. BBC News reports that the trouble was minimal, with "a total of nine people were arrested in connection with the demonstrations," including "two men, aged 48 and 19, and a 38-year-old woman, who were all arrested on suspicion of conspiracy to cause violent disorder and GBH."

The EDL is a nationalist, islamophobic RACIST organisation
Reports from Northern Indymedia describe the event as "variously as being dull, jubilant and tightly controlled." Although one "group of EDL marched around the Albion Street area and responded violently when challenged about their inflamatory chanting," overall the day was uneventful, with most EDL supporters "held between police lines," and others "regrouped on Boar Lane, before being brought back to the railway station by the police."

Overall, the result of the demonstration in Leeds was a further marginalisation of the English Defence League, with Nazi salutes and the presence of numerous known fascists and Stormfront members further damaging the idea that they are "non-racist" or "non-political."

The EDL is a nationalist, islamophobic RACIST organisation
As many had been calling for, then, the 31st October saw a credible, radical opposition to both al-Muhajiroon and the English Defence League. Both are reactionary, far-right organisations which offer only division and hatred, and they will never be allowed to control our streets.