An anti-fascist demonstration is to go ahead in Tower Hamlets this weekend, despite the cancellation of both an Islamic meeting and a protest against it by the English Defence League.
The demonstration called by United Against Fascism and United East End will go ahead on Sunday despite the original reasons for the march no longer being in existence. The decision to go ahead was taken at a meeting at the London Muslim Centre in Whitechapel last weekend.
The right wing English Defence League had planned to march through the largely Muslim community against a gathering under the title: ”The Book That Shook the World” which was to have been held the Troxy, a venue in Commercial Road on Sunday. The event was subsequently cancelled by the Troxy because, according to a statement issued by the venue: “We recently signed up to the council’s No Place for Hate campaign and feel that some of the speakers have the potential to clash with the terms of the pledge.”
The Troxy refused to answer questions about the possible implications for their decision for freedom of speech in the borough.
The conference was billed as a discussion of the Koran. According to the East London Advertiser, none of the speakers was on the Government’s banned list, nevertheless there had been complaints received about the line-up from local people and anti-fascist groups.
The anarchist group, the Whitechapel Community Defence said: “Extremists from both the UK Islamic Conference (UK-IC) and the English Defence League (EDL) threaten to invade our local community in Tower Hamlets. Neither of these groups originates from this area but attempt to recruit, divide and create trouble spreading their respective poisons. To this we say NO.”
Unite Against Fascism the fact that the EDL had backed away was an indication of the ”size, breadth and unity” of opposition to them. But a spokesman added: ”We must not be complacent. The EDL will continue to whip up its thugs into a frenzy of hate directed against Muslims and ethnic minorities in Tower Hamlets and across the country. Our United East End demonstration will go ahead to celebrate our diversity and ensure that our streets are kept free of racists and fascists.”
Unite Against Fascism held a meeting on Sunday 13th June at the London Muslim Centre in Whitechapel. John Biggs, London Assembly member for City and East London, spoke at the meeting and there were a reported 750 people in attendance from a broad spectrum of local community groups. A decision was made there to go ahead with Sunday’s demonstration.
The demonstration assembles at 12.30pm in Stepney Green Park and will march to Altab Ali Park.