Satire should spear the powerful

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The savage killing of the Charlie Hebdo cartoonists and journalists by terrorists in Paris is utterly contemptible, but not inexplicable. For me as a cartoonist this seemed to be horribly close to home. As the great cartoonist Joe Sacco commented immediately after the massacre, “This is my tribe”. Sadly, the ensuing media storm has done little to explain and a lot to foment division and put the blame upon “backward” Islam and Muslims in general.

France after the Charlie Hebdo killings

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The immediate response to the attack on Charlie Hebdo was that of “national unity” in the face of terrorism. This mood benefitted the government of Francois Hollande, because it masked many of the contradictions inside French society. In the first week there was a horrific wave of Islamophobia, with more attacks on Muslims and other minorities reported than in the whole of last year.

The French Intifada

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When a copy of Andrew Hussey’s The French Intifada, The Long War Between France and Its Arabs, first came across my desk, I set it aside. The cover is of the Eiffel Tower surrounded by Islamic designs, with the French cock, the symbol of revolution, imprisoned in an Arabesque style cage. At the base are rising flames — presumably depicting French society burning from below. But since the Charlie Hebdo killings it provides a useful insight into a mindset that has gripped many intellectuals on the left.

Resist the racist offensive against Muslims

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Red fist

The coalition government has unveiled new laws that target Muslims, while across Europe there is growing Islamophobia. But our movement can resist this onslaught, argues Hassan Mahamdallie.

The demonisation and securitisation of Britain’s Muslims are accelerating at a bewildering pace. What prime minister David Cameron meant in his speech in Munich in February 2011 by his call to flex “muscular liberalism” in response to the so-called “war on terror” is becoming clearer by the day. As is the grotesque myth of “superior” Western liberal ideas and values continually vaunted by politicians in Europe and on both sides of the Atlantic.

'EDL are splintering and demoralised'

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Kelvin Williams, UAF photographer

When Tommy Robinson and Kevin Caroll announced they quit the EDL it was greeted with acrimonious disappointment by the foot soldiers. The constant opposition they faced was the chief factor in them drawing the conclusion that the street movement was no longer working.

Stopping the BNP and EDL: Strategy of patience and small deeds

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Paul Sillet, UAF national campaigner

When the EDL first emerged in 2009 we thought, "What is this new beast?" We noticed that there were former BNP, Combat 18 and National Front types around the demos, if not necessarily on them. Those on the demos were mainly from the "firms" - football supporters involved in inter-club violence - and others.

The EDL were attracting supporters to the prospect of launching mini pogroms in places like Luton and Dudley. At the time we were facing a possible BNP electoral breakthrough alongside a growing fascist street movement.

'A victory that came from unity'

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Dean Harris and Natasha Munoz, Waltham Forest UAF

Dean: 'As soon as we discovered that the fascists would come to Waltham Forest we called a meeting and invited everyone we could. No one was to be excluded. We wanted it to be as broad as possible, even though there were others who disagreed - especially some people who wanted to exclude the Labour Party as they accused them of implementing austerity.

To us it was clear that we needed to build a big movement, despite any other disagreements. It was a big advantage to have Walthamstow MP Stella Creasy with us. She played important role in the campaign.

'We took a risk, and it paid off'

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Leicester was one of the turning points in the battle to stop the EDL. It was to be the first major UAF demo built locally, despite facing a national mobilisation by the fascists. At the time it represented an attempt to turn the EDL strategy on its head. Instead of them leaving behind local groups, UAF would use the opportunity to put down deep roots.

Leicester had been trying to get a local UAF group running for a while. We had managed to get a number of people to some of the national mobilisations against the EDL, as well as days of action against the BNP. We that knew sooner or later the fascists would target our multiracial city.

When the EDL announced they would march on 9 October 2010 we assumed that there would be a national UAF mobilisation. But we received a call from the UAF national office telling us that we had to build a local demo. Our first reaction was, "You've got to be joking!"

Anti-fascism and the spirit of the united front

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In this special feature Socialist Review sets out the challenges and strategies faced by the anti-fascist movements in Britain. With contributions from activists involved in the struggle here.

The declaration by Tommy Robinson and his cousin Kevin Carroll that they were abandoning the English Defence League (EDL), the street organisation they had founded, marked an important milestone in the struggle against fascism in Britain. Robinson had led one of the most successful fascist street movements since the National Front in the 1970s, a model emulated by dozens of "Defence Leagues" across Europe. His resignation marked the movement's demise, and follows the electoral collapse of the Nazi British National Party (BNP).


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