Viv Smith

Fash mob

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The racist English Defence League (EDL) seem to be developing a new strategy for continuing their campaign of hatred against the Muslim community following their failure to pull off "the big one" in Bradford last month.


Photo: Valerios Theofanidis

Their self-imposed leader, Tommy Robinson, wrote to supporters saying, "The mood of members has been somewhat low since the Dudley demo... Yes, we had one bad demo... We need to forget the past and look forward to the future."

The Girl Who Played With Fire

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Director: Daniel Alfredson; Release date: out now

Swedish journalist Stieg Larsson's unexpected death in 2004 put a spotlight on his trilogy of suspense novels. They tell the story of Lisbeth Salander - a young, intelligent woman driven by the horror she experiences as a ward of the state - and investigative journalist Michael Blomkvist, who seeks to expose corruption in high places. Out of the books came three films, of which this is the second.

Cry, The Beloved Country

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Director: Zoltan Korda, Release date: 18 January

Cry, The Beloved Country was first released in 1952. It is based on the novel by Alan Paton, released in 1948, just four months before the racist National Party, which introduced the legal system of apartheid, took power in South Africa.

Paton won numerous awards for his novel, and it was an important work in its time - it raised the plight of black people in South Africa to an international audience.

The City and The City

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China Miéville, Macmillan; £17.99

China Miéville's new offering is a brave crossover from his usual "weird fiction" genre into the world of crime.

As a crime novel it works, from the gritty opening discovery of a body through to the classically jaded police inspector for which this crime becomes something more than run of the mill.

Gone are Miéville's usual array of monsters and complex other worlds. This is a novel set in the present, somewhere in Europe, although true to his roots he constructs imaginary cities with their own languages, helping to enhance the reader's feeling of displacement throughout.

LGBT history month: The rainbow nation today

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The South African constitution is one of the most advanced in the world when it comes to LGBT rights. Viv Smith, a gay rights activist who worked for the ANC during the writing of the constitution, describes how these advances were won but argues there is still so much to fight for today.

The mass movement that got rid of apartheid carried with it a vision for a different society. The constitution, signed in 1996, symbolised the hopes of millions. Containing the most advanced Bill of Rights in the world it is no surprise that LGBT activists and human rights campaigners celebrated it. We felt that everything was possible: the world was at our feet ready for the taking.

Goodbye Bafana

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Director Bille August

I left South Africa in 1998 after having spent three and a half years working for the ANC, initially as part of the Constitutional Commission and then as a researcher in Parliament. Campaigning for the ANC, being able to vote in a democratic election for the first time and playing a small part in the making of the most democratic constitution in the world were some of the proudest moments in my life and helped shape my ideas and politics.

Finding Roots

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Review of 'Playing In The Light', Zoë Wicomb, The New Press £14.99

There have been many novels written about post-apartheid South Africa but few manage to tackle the question of race and class as well as Zoë Wicomb has done here.

At first the book appears to be yet another story of white guilt and coming to grips with the "new South Africa". But it is worth fighting through the first 30 pages, as this is a much more complex story.

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