Islamophobia has become a major political problem in Britain, not just for Muslims but for all of us. It is integral to the whole ideology propping up the so-called 'war on terror' and underpins the persistent attacks on civil liberties. Like all forms of racism, it is deployed to divide the working class against itself, thus weakening united resistance on all fronts. Combatting the problem is therefore an urgent priority for all anti-war campaigners, anti-racists and socialists.
Islamophobia has become the cutting edge of contemporary racism in British society, assuming 'respectability' in the media and political mainstream. The fascists have exploited this broader climate, making racist propaganda against Muslims the cornerstone of their efforts to attract wider support. Building broad-based opposition to Islamophobia is essential to rolling back the progress made by the BNP, as well as helping nurture a strong anti-racist culture more generally.
In the wake of the recent Birmingham and Harrow protests against the English Defence League, it is also evident that the more thuggish and violent elements of the far right are determined to terrorise Muslim communities. It was impressive, however, to witness the militant and determined reistance of those communities, with solidarity from non-Muslims, in response to EDL intimidation.
More such protests will be necessary, to isolate the fascist thugs from the wider layers of potential support for organisations such as the BNP. It is also essential that we build broad-based and large-scale solidarity with Muslim communities more generally. Anti-fascist networks, like Unite Against Fascism, have a role to play, as does the anti-war movement. Opposing the racist backlash against Muslims is a central element in resisting the ideological offensive that accompanies the imperialist occupations of others' lands. It's time to turn the tide on the racists and warmongers.