Couple joining the central London Stand Up to Racism demonstration, March 2017. Photo: Jim Aindow Couple joining the central London Stand Up to Racism demonstration, March 2017. Photo: Jim Aindow

Recent anti-racist mobilisations show the movement shifting up a gear, notes Kevin Ovenden  

It’s noteworthy that the genesis and central slogan of the Paris anti-racist demonstration yesterday was against police and state violent racism.

This is in a country which is still under a state of emergency.


The images and comments from participants show a range of other anti-racist and anti-xenophobic questions were brought together around that central axis.

But this was not a cosmopolitan demonstration with the state of Francois Hollande against the far right, or a demonstration that was with Emmanuel Macron and his liberal centrist campaign.

It was much more radical and militant than that, and looking across the Atlantic not to the Clinton Democrats but to Black Lives Matter.

In Greece, also, it was broad but at the same time militantly of the left: for smashing the nazi Golden Dawn and for them being jailed in the court case; yet also against Fortress Europe and for closing the refugee camps.

Similar observations from Britain, where Muslim organisations and teacher union activists have made considerable strides in opposing the Prevent policy, which is a key mechanism for generating Islamophobia.


Worth bearing in mind that the demonstration took place less than a year after working people in London came out in great numbers to defeat David Cameron’s, George Osborne’s and Zac Goldsmith’s viciously anti-Muslim campaign against Sadiq Khan in the London mayor election.

All this is encouraging.

And it is in marked contrast to the cynical attempts of liberal centrist political forces to play on anti-racist sentiment, but to narrow it down from taking up questions such as police violence and the Greek refugee camps – while at the same time trying to deradicalise it so that it chimes with… well, the editorship of the Evening Standard being granted to George Osborne, welcomed yesterday by Tony Blair.

Kevin Ovenden

Kevin Ovenden is a progressive journalist who has followed politics and social movements for 25 years. He is a leading activist in solidarity with the Palestinian struggle, led five successful aid convoys to break the siege on Gaza, and was aboard the Mavi Marmara aid ship when Israeli commandoes boarded it killing 10 people in May 2010. He is author of Syriza: Inside the Labyrinth.