In my opinion the UAF and other organisations in opposition to the far right should avoid street clashes with the EDL, the BNP, or any other far right groups like the plague.
Anti-fascists, whilst remaining implacable foes of the far right, should not tarnish that message by engaging in physical confrontation, especially in the context of street violence.
HOPE not hate is dedicated to countering the hateful and divisive politics of the BNP and other far right groups through patient and peaceful means.
So the fascists arrange a street rally through the pages of Facebook, so what? Let them march and let the police do their job.
Arrange a counter demonstration elsewhere, prepare press releases, denounce the far right by all means, but what is the point of calling anti-fascists into a confrontation situation?
The fight against fascism must be an intellectual, media and political fight, with a commitment to local political activism.
A descent into fisticuffs beside the ruffians of extreme Muslim groups, as we have seen in Birmingham, Luton and Harrow recently, does not do the cause of anti-fascism any good whatsoever, and that's not only my opinion:
From Pickled Politics:
These fights do no one any good
So the Stop Islamisation of Europe and EDL people didn’t really show up in the numbers they promised in Harrow yesterday. But this isn’t a victory for anyone. Does anyone really think the video clips of huge numbers of Muslim youths throwing things at the police does their cause any good?
Let’s rewind a bit here. The recent events require a few points to be made.
1. For many BNP & EDL types, the enemy are Muslims, not Asians or even all ethnic minorities. Muslims are easier to bait, easier to target and easier to demonise. I’ve said this repeatedly in the past: any examination of BNP / EDL activities that ignores their shift in focus to Muslims, is highly naive.
2. The SIOE and EDL people haven’t sprang up as a direct result of terrorism, otherwise they’d have started in July 2005. They’ve become more prominent recently because the rhetoric around Muslims taking over, the “demographic problem of Muslims”, the growing number of mosques etc has become fever-pitch, especially in the mainstream media. The kind of people who now daily scream about how many kids have Muslim names or how their babies are swelling in numbers are to blame for this hysteria.
3. These large confrontations make it even more difficult to challenge Islamists and racists on either side for obvious reasons. Muslims will become less tolerant of internal and external criticism given they feel under attack; while the xenophobes who peddle the scary demographics will point to the TV reports and say: ‘see, told you the Muslims were taking over, we can’t even stop them from building mosques now!‘
4. This is why I’ve increasingly shifted my focus on attacking these mainstream xenophobes, because they play very nicely into the polarising atmosphere that religious extremists want.
5. I’m not euphoric over what happened (recently) in Harrow. I said earlier that sooner or later these brawls will get out of hand and a rogue gang of youths will beat up someone so badly the entire anti-racist movement will be smeared by association. This thing is getting out of control, and the UAF and associated anti-fascists need to think harder about how to control the crowds.
by Sunny Hundal
Sunny is mostly a commentator and writer who runs Liberal Conspiracy, Asians in Media magazine and Pickled Politics. He also writes regularly for the Guardian blog Comment is free.
He’s also written in the past for the Guardian, The Independent, The Times, Metro and the Financial Times. He is also sometimes invited to commentate on television and radio with his frequently ‘controversial’ (meaning unashamedly liberal) views.