Islamophobia

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".

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.

The rise of Islamophobia

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Anti-Muslim racism is on the increase. Dave Weltman looks at how Muslims have been scapegoated in Britain and across Europe.

The trend towards making anti-Muslim racism "respectable" continues to grow relentlessly throughout Europe. There is the success, for example, of those who look likely in the next few months to win a ban on Muslim women wearing garments to cover the face - whether citing "security" concerns in Belgium or "defence of national values" in France. In Switzerland the recent outlawing of minarets through a referendum is being looked upon by reactionaries across the continent as a step towards normalising the arguments that portray mosques as "alien" and threatening cultural impositions.

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).

Veiled threats

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When a Muslim woman was stopped by police for wearing a niqab while driving in Nantes, western France, last month it gave a warning of what may be to come.

Legislation is due to be tabled this month banning the burqa and niqab in public places in France, including transport, universities, hospitals, job centres and post offices. Women would have to "keep the face uncovered throughout their presence" or face "a refusal to deliver the service demanded". This is despite the fact that less than 2,000 - out of an estimated 1.5 million Muslim women who live in France - are known to wear it.

Ilham Moussaid: A proud tribune of the oppressed

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The candidacy of New Anti-capitalist Party activist Ilham Moussaïd caused controversy in France because she chooses to wear a hijab. She spoke to Jim Wolfreys about challenging capitalism and Islamophobia

Nadine Morano, a member of the right wing government of François Fillon, was questioned recently about the compatibility between Islam and the French Republic. She replied, "What I want from a young Muslim, when he's French, is that he loves his country, that he finds a job, that he doesn't speak back slang, and that he doesn't put his cap on back to front."

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.

Letter from Switzerland

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A referendum has led to a constitutional ban on the construction of minarets on mosques. Charles-André Udry reports on the scapegoating of Muslims in the country.

Swiss citizens voted by 57.5 percent in a recent referendum for the introduction of an article into the constitution ruling, "The construction of minarets is forbidden." Participation in the poll, held across the country on 29 November 2009, was very high by Swiss standards, at 53.4 percent. There are currently only four minarets in Switzerland, in Geneva, Basel and Winterthur. The populations of all three of these cities voted against the ban.

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".

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