Fascism

Is this the end of Sarkozy?

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As the French presidential elections near, Sylvestre Jaffard charts the declining fortunes of Nicolas Sarkozy and looks at the dangers from the right, with the fascist Marine Le Pen buoyed by the polls, and the opportunities for the left to challenge neoliberalism and austerity

On 22 April voters throughout France and the overseas territories still under its control will go to the polls for the first round of the presidential elections. This comes after ten years of Nicolas Sarkozy being in power, the last five as president. The French Tories have managed to score some important victories for the ruling class over that decade. Two successive pension reforms have raised the retirement age while cutting pensions. Social Security (equivalent to the NHS) has been cut so that the sick now have to pay much more out of their own pockets.

Europe's forgotten minority

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Europe's Roma are facing a wave of racist attacks. But, argues Daniela Manske, the oppression of Europe's largest ethnic minority is no new phenomenon. As the economic crisis in Europe deepens, challenging anti-Roma racism is a vital task for socialists.

In spring last year paramilitary gangs roamed several Hungarian villages with dogs and whips following anti-Roma marches in "defence of ethnic Hungarians". The fascist "Movement for a Better Hungary", better known as Jobbik, organised the marches. Jobbik came third in recent national elections. One march, in the Hungarian village of Gyöngyöspata, attracted 2,000 Jobbik supporters, and over Easter 300 Roma were evacuated in anticipation of another paramilitary attack.

Fighting racism on two fronts

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When the racist English Defence League (EDL) announced it was going to hold a demonstration in Luton on 5 February everyone knew that it was going to be a big test for both the anti-fascist movement and the racists.

In the run-up to the demonstration the EDL boasted that it was going to put 8,000 people on the streets. But on the day it claimed 2,500 turned up.

However, anti-fascist protesters outnumbered the EDL two to one. Around 2,000 activists gathered at the official Unite Against Fascism (UAF) rally in the town centre and up to 3,000 people joined the joint UAF/community protest in Bury Park, the predominantly Asian part of the town.

Growing up with racism in Britain

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The threat posed by racists on the streets and fascists at the ballot box shows that racism has not gone away. Zita Holbourne, Weyman Bennett, Hesketh Benoit, Marcia Rigg and Assed Baig discuss their experience of racism and how to fight back.

"Let's tackle the roots of racism" - Zita Holbourne

Growing up in 1970s London, I was viewed as a strange phenomenon by many. Frequently my mother was told to "go back home" and called a "wog". People tried to apply labels to me and called me "half caste", "half breed", "half pint". Some didn't know what my race was but knew they disliked me because of the way I looked and called me "Paki", "Greek girl" and "Chinese girl".

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."

EDL - racist leagues on the defensive

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After taking a short break to allow their friends in the Nazi British National Party (BNP) to have a free hand in the general election, the racist English Defence League (EDL) are once again back on the streets.

But one thing has become very clear: things are not going as planned for the EDL.

The first protest they called after the recent general election was in Newcastle on Saturday 29 May. The EDL organisers of the protest told the police they expected 5,000 people to attend. On the day they could barely claim a tenth of that number. Greeting them was a thousand-strong Unite Against Fascism (UAF) counter-demonstration, supported by a large number of trade unionists and local Muslim people. The day ended with Newcastle and Sunderland EDL supporters fighting each other.

EDL divisions develop

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Two important protests, in Bolton and Dudley, have taken place since Socialist Review published the article "English Defence League Uncovered" in March.

Bolton was the most serious. Up to 3,500 anti-fascists confronted around 800 English Defence League (EDL) supporters. What marked Bolton out from the 13 other counter-EDL protests of the last eight months was the ferocity of the police. For hours they attacked Unite Against Fascism (UAF) supporters, using police dogs and horses (see Frontlines last month).

The BNP and EDL

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A new racist political group is organising on the streets. They call themselves the English Defence League, but who are they and what do they represent? Martin Smith investigates

Alan Lake is a middle aged English businessman. Last September he addressed an anti-Islam conference organised by the racist Sweden Democrats in Malmo. This shady figure told delegates that it was necessary to build an anti-Jihad movement that was "ready to go out onto the street". He also claimed that he and his friends had already begun to build alliances with football supporters.

The English Defence League: Not suited but booted

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This summer saw a sinister new development on the far right of British politics.

Groups such as the English Defence League (EDL) have started to take to the streets, organising anti-Muslim "demonstrations" in towns and cities such as Birmingham, Luton and Harrow.

Anti-fascists have responded by mobilising against the EDL, often at very short notice. In Birmingham thousands mobilised on two occasions to chase them out of town. And in Harrow last month some 2,000 people, of all ages and backgrounds, turned out to defend the local mosque from a protest planned by the EDL and an organisation called "Stop the Islamisation of Europe".

A tale of two festivals

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This summer Love Music Hate Racism (LMHR) was invited to open one of the largest European music festivals, the Sziget festival in Budapest, and I was sent along to compere the event.

The day before I arrived in Hungary, reports were coming through that gangs of young skinheads had rampaged through the village of Veroce, attacked a pregnant Roma woman and beaten up a young Roma boy.

I talked about these attacks in interviews I gave to the press. I was surprised when I was told that it was best not to talk about this, as no attacks had taken place. I was even more taken aback when the police issued a statement saying that they had not received any reports of such attacks.

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