Around 15,000 racist and far right activists gathered in Whitehall today to back jailed ex-English Defence League leader Tommy Robinson.
The event saw major clashes with the police and attempts to attack Stand Up To Racism and Unite Against Fascism activists who gathered to oppose the march.
Robinson’s supporters were seen sieg heiling (video here)
Robinsons support was international with the racist and fascist right mobilising in his defence.
Dutch Islamophobic politician Geert Wilders praised Robinson saying “Tommy Robinson is the greatest freedom fighter of Britain today, he says what no one dares to say. He has guts. He has courage…We are foreigners in our own land”.
A text message was received from leading US Alt right activist and former Trump chief of staff Steve Bannon said that “he will fight to get Tommy free”. Louis Aliot deputy leader of the fascist French National Rally (RN) also sent a message of support.
As with Geert Wilders, the message from Britain’s far right was not just about Robinson.
The Muslim community was their chief target. Anne Marie Waters of “For Britain” declared that “we live under Islamic supremacy in Britian…we live under the iron fist of Islam but we will never bow to the Imans and their demands”. UKIP leader Gerard Batten also spoke from the plaform saying: “You can either submit or resist Islamisation”
Stand Up to Racism and Unite Against Fascism supporters held a counter-protest that was supported by Shadow Home Secretary Diane Abbott and leading trade unionists including Unite’s Len McCluskey, PCS leader Mark Serwotka and the NEU’s Kevin Courtney.
Weyman Bennett from Stand Up To Racism said: “Robinson is being held up as a martyr but wherever his support grows so does racism, hate and violence. In Leeds where he was arrested first his supporters marched through the city shouting Islamophobic slogans then, a few days later, a mosque and a Sikh temple were hit by arson attacks”.
The rally for Robinson in London was nothing more than an attempt by the racist right to launch a new, violent, Islamophobic movement, on the model of what we’ve seen in many European countries.
Michael Bradley from Unite Against Fascism said: “We are sounding the alarm to the trade union and labour movement. These are not cranks who will disappear of their own accord. We need to build a mass movement to drive these people back. Left unoppossed their protests will grow and racism and violence will grow with them. They are using the same kind of rhetoric against Muslims as was used by the far right in the 1930’s against the Jews. We have to learn the lessons of history”.