Mark Tyers reports on Saturday’s successful counter-protest against the fascist National Front in Sunderland

Sunderland anti-nazi protestAnti-racists saw off a National Front-organised protest in Sunderland on Saturday. The fascist National Front was protesting at Sunderland council’s recent decision to grant planning permission for the construction of a new mosque in the Millfield area of the city.

Up to 150 people – local Muslims, trade unionists, Greens and socialists – responded despite less than 48 hours’ notice, gathering to counter the anti-Muslim demonstration.

Anti-racists successfully challenged the fascists’ plans, outnumbering them by three to one, and undermined the limited local support for the NF’s message. We highlighted the NF’s poisonous beliefs via chants of “Nazi scum, off our street” and banners whose slogans included “Get the Nazis out of Sunderland”. After an hour and a half, the NF skulked off.

This latest demonstration follows another equally succesful anti-racist demonstration held in the city last month which discouraged Nick Griffin from attending a BNP-organized protest ostensibly against halal meat.

The protest was also a blow against the Islamophobia sanctioned by successive New Labour and Tory-led governments in their efforts to justify the “war on terror”, which has seen a continuing commitment to wars and occupations and cracking down on civil liberties at home.

In the last few years the “official” Islamophobia and anti-migrant racism of the British state has only been further emphasised in order to divert people’s anger away from austerity. David Cameron’s recent remarks on how Muslim’s need to embrace democracy and reject extremism (as if all Muslims are terrorists) and his proposal of “halting immigration of Greeks into the UK if they leave the Euro” are just two recent examples of such “acceptable” racism.