As the crises of capitalism continue to deepen internationally, so does the movement spread for scapegoating of others. This is not surprising nor is it new. In the 1930’s it was the great lie of the world Jewish conspiracy that was used to stir up hatred and anti-Semitism and today it is xenophobic hatred and irrational fear of Muslims. This is the same method used by the Nazis but now on a different group of innocent victims.
Geert Wilders, leader of the Dutch far right Freedom party, having stirred up racism across Europe, is now turning his attention to America, Canada, France and Germany with his message of racial hatred under the banner of “stop Islam, defend freedom”, in order to supposedly free the western world in some modern day crusade.
According to his party’s latest announcement, the aim is to outlaw immigration into Europe from Muslim countries and banning of sharia law. Supposedly, this will safeguard all our freedoms but not the freedom from racism, bigotry and the effects of the recession!
A spokesperson for Dutch Muslims, Ayhan Tonca, called on “well-meaning people in Europe to oppose this”. In the mean time, Geert Wilders attempted to distance himself from sections of the far right, such as the BNP, “ the BNP is a party that what ever you think of it, its not my party I think it’s a racist party”, ( Guardian 16/7/10). However he is aiming to construct an alliance “between traditional conservative parties and far right wing groups”.
In his first attempt to gain a foothold in Britain, the united communities of Harrow came out in force last September, in defence of the new mosque, and showed him and his fascist friends of the EDL that they were not welcomed. Their pathetic attempt to return in December was also met with a similar mass mobilisation. Since then, we have seen the EDL attempt violent pogroms, static demonstrations and marches leading to violence across the towns and cities of Britain. Mass counter mobilisations in Tower Hamlets was only the latest example of this race hate message being rejected. They subsequently failed to turn up in Wembley when presented with another promised mass mobilisation on the streets by local anti-fascists.
Although the BNP have faced heavy electoral defeats in Barking, Stoke and elsewhere, thanks to the efforts of many thousands of anti-fascists in the UAF, Hope Not Hate and other anti-racist organisations, their vote, along with that of the NF has reached half a million, approx. We can not afford to be complacent.
The banning of minarets in Switzerland and the moves to pass laws heavily penalising Muslim women for wearing the veil or burqa in France and elsewhere, is the latest sign of the spread of Islamophobia. It does not stop there. Racist assaults are on the increase, along with the rise of homophobia. Once an innocent group are identified as a scapegoat, then others feel it is legitimate to carry out physical attacks on people because of their colour, ethnicity or religion.
This is not about defending secularism in some abstract battle against religion. This is about defending democratic rights. Such erosion, if achieved, will then lead to a further attack on workers rights generally. The cry should go out- “We are all Muslims, Jews, Christians, Hindus, Buddhists, atheists, gay, straight, black and white, young and old . We are all workers and we are all anti-racists and anti-fascists.”
The UAF needs to extend the role it has played by urgently convening its postponed AGM to take up this international challenge. The anti-fascist movement internationally needs to co-ordinate its response to such a rising threat and draw on the lessons of both the past and the present in order to ensure that the future remains anti-racist and anti-fascist. The international crisis of capitalism requires an international and united response.
Do not let Geert Wilders and his ilk determine what happens. The anti-fascist movement must do internationally what was done at Cable Street, Harrow and Tower Hamlets to ensure that they will not pass.