Sunday, 17 May 2009

the movement stays on the streets

There were two demonstrations yesterday: Birmingham's march for jobs and a London demo to mark the anniversary of the Nakba, the forced expulsion of Palestinians from their own land in order to found the state of Israel in 1948.

I was with thousands of others in London, showing that the movement for solidarity with Gaza has not gone away. I travelled down on a coach with a great mix of people from the North East, all of them dedicated to ensuring the world doesn't forget the suffering of Gaza's people. The marches and protests in January were an astonishing display of solidarity with Palestine - while we may not mobilise such big numbers right now, events like these are vital for sustaining networks at a time when Israeli violence and brutality are not front page news.

Lindsey German, Stop the War convenor, was applauded for asserting that we also march in defence of our right to protest and against the poisonous Islamaphobia that accompanies the whole US-UK-Israeli 'war on terror'. January's mobilisations brought tens of thousands of Muslims back on to the streets - and indeed was a first outing for many others - in defiance of police racism and the wider culture of vilification and prejudice. Our movement continues to resist the ideological backlash that seeks to portray Muslims as a threatening 'enemy within'.

This is especially crucial at a time when the BNP aims to take seats in the European Parliament. A vibrant, multi-racial and anti-imperialist pole of attraction is needed in British political culture. It is, amongst other things, integral to the fightback against the rise of today's Nazis.

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