Issue 281, Friday 28 September 2012 - 11 Dhu al-Qa'dah 1433
Anti Islam English Defence League rejected by locals in Walthamstow
By Abdul Adil
People in East London rejected anti Islam English Defence League (EDL)’s hate messages when it invaded Walthamstow on September 1.
According Morning Star, despite a big police presence hundreds of locals took officers by surprise as they peacefully blockaded a strategic junction at the top end of busy Hoe Street - a move similar to the East End’s famous ’30s victory over Oswald Mosley’s British Union of Fascists.
Hundreds more outwitted police attempts to kettle them and escort the EDL via backstreets to a rally at the nearby town hall.
“They will not pass” - a phrase made famous during the Spanish civil war against fascist Franco - echoed around the streets as local protesters swept down Forest Road to easily reach the EDL’s destination first, where they besieged its leader Tommy Robinson.
In the end the massively outnumbered EDL and Robinson were forced to retreat onto the side streets where they were ringed by police.
Meanwhile hundreds of locals including members of unions the FBU, Unison, Unite and RMT were finally released from separate police “kettles” to march triumphant back towards the town centre.
Around 2,000 locals had earlier answered the We Are Waltham Forest (WAWF) organisation’s call to Stop the 200 EDL protesters by gathering near the town’s famous market to hear politicians, trade unionists and representatives of different faiths deliver messages of unity and defiance.
WAWF’s Sophie Bolt said the cultural mix in the borough was one of the best things about living there.
“We’re proud of our community. We’re proud of our multicultralism. We’re proud of our diversity. That’s what makes us great. That’s what makes Walthamstow great.”
Waltham Forest Council of Mosque’s Irfan Akhtar said all the borough’s mosques had thrown their weight behind the campaign against an organisation hoping to “bring hatred and division.”
“We’re united in our opposition to racism, fascism and hatred in our own communities or other communities,” he declared.
And Green MEP Jean Lambert, a local resident, said: “When the EDL are on the streets we have to be there as well.”
Unite Against Fascism’s Weyman Bennett was also among the speakers, telling the crowd: “The council leader said the best thing to do is ignore them. That’s a mistake. Every time they are ignored they grow stronger.”