Posts Tagged ‘EDL’

EDL Saved by Police in Slough – 2014

Thursday, February 1st, 2024

EDL Saved by Police in Slough: Ten years ago today around two hundred EDL supporters had come from around the country to march to a rally in the centre of Slough on Saturday 1st February 2014, sparked by plans to convert a failed social club on the outskirts of Slough to be used as a mosque and Islamic centre.

EDL Saved by Police in Slough

Their protest was opposed by a much larger counter-protests by black clad anti-fascist groups, the UAF and trade unionists, a large group of local mainly Asian youths and other local residents. Police had to clear a route for the EDL march with charges by police horses and with riot police with raised batons, and also protect them from having to run for their lives from angry counter-protesters to allow their rally to proceed. A large police presence seperated them from a rally by the UAF and trade unionists a short distance away.

EDL Saved by Police in Slough

Langley Village Club on Cheviot Road, Langley ceased trading in 2013 and was bought by Dawat-e-Islami who gained planning permission to convert it into an Islamic community and teaching centre and place of worship, Faizon-E-Madina.

EDL Saved by Police in Slough

Langley is on the eastern outskirts of Slough just north of the M4 and A4 and the small medieval village became a major manufacturing ventre, at first for building the Hawker Hurricane and other fighters during and after the war including the Hawker Hunter. When Hawker Siddeley left in 1959 the entire site was taken over by the Ford Motor Company who had been making parts for commercial vehicles there since 1949. The club was a part of the large estates that grew up here in the 1960s and 70s to house the workers in these and other factories around Slough and at Heathrow.

EDL Saved by Police in Slough

Some local residents had objected to the change of use, in particular fearing it might generate large volumes of traffic, although it is a relatively small building and the planning permission imposed a limit of 300 people at events there. The area now has a fairly high number of Muslims living within walking distance of the centre and the charity argued that the 35 parking places on site were sufficient, though the planning committee was not convinced.

The opposition to the plans by the EDL were not largely about parking but Islamophobia. EDL leaflets talked about “the disturbing proliferation of poorly regulated mosques” and linked the protest with its actions to highlight the activities of “vile grooming gangs“; they alleged that residents living around other mosques have been “driven to anger, tears and despair” because of the mosques, and suggested that the centre will “antagonise, perhaps even terrorise, local residents.”

They also claimed that Dawat-e-Islami “overtly supported the assassination of Pakistani politician Salmaan Taseer by Mumtaz Qadri, a member of the organisation who disagreed with Taseer’s opposition to Pakistan’s blasphemy law.”

They raised other local issues too, including the setting up of a Muslim faith-based school under the Free Schools programme which opened in September 2015 as Eden Girl’s School. Many others -including probably most of those who came to protest against the EDl would agree with there opposition to this, some opposed to all faith-based schools and those who oppose the whole divisive approach of ‘Free Schools’, agreeing as I do with the teacher’s union NUT (now NEU) that “We believe it is wrong that state funding should be given to small groups of individuals to run schools that are unaccountable to their local communities.”

I don’t visit Slough often, although I live only a few miles away – though it takes a while on the bus. I arrived a couple of hours before the EDL rally was due to start and was able to photograph and talk with the EDL about their protest for some time before a few of them objected to my presence.

The pictures on My London Dairy at EDL Saved by Police in Slough and my account there give a very full account of what happened and I won’t repeat it here. Slough is one of the UK’s most ethnically diverse towns and its industries have brought people to it from across the country and around the world since the 1920s. The population of the borough is now over 150,000 and the various communities seem largely to live together with few problems.

According to Wikipedia, “the 2011 census showed that 41.2% of Slough’s population identified as Christian, 23.3% as Muslim, 10.6% as Sikh, 6.2% as Hindu, 0.5% as Buddhist, 0.1% as Jewish, 0.3% as having other religions” and Slough has the highest proportion of Sikh residents of any town in the country and “the highest percentage of Muslim and Hindu residents in the South East region.”

Much more about what happened along with many more pictures at EDL Saved by Police in Slough.


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EDL Rally Supports Israel – 2010

Tuesday, October 24th, 2023

EDL Rally Supports Israel: In 2010 the English Defence League (EDL) an extreme right-wing organisation founded in June 2009 was reaching the peak of its existence and several hundred came to a protest in Kensington to show their support of Israel.

EDL Rally Supports Israel

The EDL’s support of Israel came from the anti-Muslim centre of their activities; the group was founded following their opposition to a protest at a homecoming parade in Luton by a small group of Muslim extremists against a regiment returning from Afghanistan, which was also opposed by Luton’s large Muslim community.

EDL Rally Supports Israel
Rabbi Nachum Shifren

The EDL had invited right-wing US Rabbi Nachum Shifren, part of the ‘Tea Party’ movement from California to speak at the rally outside the Israeli Embassy. As I wrote at the time, “Although the EDL claim to be opposing the rise of fascism in their opposition to Muslim extremists, they have come to a very biased view over Israel and Palestine, and have been very effectively infiltrated by bigoted Zionists.

EDL Rally Supports Israel

The EDL gathered at a pub on Gloucester Road before their march to the Embassy, filling the pavement outside. There were a number of press photographers on the opposite side of the street watching them but I decided to cross the road and talked with and photograph Rabbi Schriffin. None of the other photographers followed me.

EDL Rally Supports Israel

For some minutes before the start of the march I was able to talk with him and some of the EDL supporters and some were happy to be photographed, and even complimented me for my accurate reporting on earlier protests – while complaining bitterly about the media coverage they get. As I told them I always try to report objectively, while also making my own difference of opinion clear.

The press they got did reflect the behaviour of at least some of those at their protests, and if the EDL wanted to end the accusations of racism they needed to take more positive action against the kind of behaviour that makes them possible. But many of their members including leading figures had a long history of membership of right-wing racist groups, and it was clear that the claim they made “We do not support racism or intolerance of any kind” was simply window dressing.

The leaflet they handed out described themselves as “the knights of old, defending our great nation for the threat of Militant Islam” and said “All welcome no matter of colour, religion or sex” and there was at least some truth in that shown in the composition of those in the march, with certainly a number of women, some claiming to be gay but, search as I have, not a single black face in my pictures.

For once Unite Against Fascism failed to mobilise much effective opposition to this demonstration – and did not appear to have tried very hard to do so. On their web site I found the statement “UAF does not have a position on the question of Israel and Palestine – our members have many different views on this question. Instead, we unite around our common aim of opposing the rise of fascism.” And as I commented, “Perhaps on this occasion they felt that taking action might offend some of their Jewish supporters.”

Some of those Jewish supporters were there in the rather small crowd opposing the rally, and there was a more direct action by a young man in a black jacket and gloves who came and stood listening for a short while, who took out his water bottle, had a drink and then reached over and poured the rest of it over the amplifier before turning and running down the street.

The sound from the microphone cut immediately, and the people inside the pen burst into angry shouts. It took the police longer to react and by the time they were moving the man had escaped, probably disappearing into High Street Kensington to catch the tube. I’d also been taken by surprise and hadn’t managed to take his photograph. Or perhaps I’d been wondering whether I should…

Eventually the water was tipped out and the amplifier wiped dry and came back into some very crackly life. Police shut the stable door by moving everyone outside the pen away and that and the sound quality made it hard to hear much of Rabbi Shifren’s speech, some minutes of which were in Hebrew. But he made clear his opposition to Sharia Law and Muslim extremists and I think to any aspect of multiculturalism. And I think he also denied the Palestinians any right to exist in the land which had been given to Israel.

Roberta Moore of EDL’s Jewish Division

I went home rather than go on with the EDL to Speakers Corner, where they were apparently heavily heckled. Another photographer who was there told me “that a small group of EDL supporters had attacked a Muslim bookstall and the 11-year-old boy who was running it, and then turned on photographers for taking pictures of their actions.” His camera had been smashed into his face by an EDL supporter. Photographs on the web confirmed this story.

Kevin Carroll

On My London Diary I wrote at some length about my own views on the EDL and the event as well as putting far more pictures than usual online which you can view at EDL Rally to Support Israel.


EDL Stopped, Musicians at Arms Fair, Silvertown – 2013

Thursday, September 7th, 2023

EDL Stopped, Musicians at Arms Fair, Silvertown: On Saturday 7th September 2013 after photographing the EDL attempting to march into Tower Hamlets and the people coming out to stop them I went on to the Excel Centre in Newham where East London Against Arms Fairs were holding a Musical Protest against next weeks DSEi arms fair. And on my way home I took more pictures.


EDL Try To March Into Tower Hamlets

EDL Stopped, Musicians at Arms Fair, Silvertown:
Whitechapel says ‘Take Your HATE Elsewhere’

I started the day in Bermondsey were around a thousand EDL supporters were gathering for a march across Tower Bridge to Aldgate High St.

EDL Stopped, Musicians at Arms Fair, Silvertown:

Police had laid down very strict conditions for the march, specifying the exact route and timings and more, which where specified on A4 sheets they handed out to protesters and were also broadcast every few minutes from a loudspeaker van where the marchers were gathering.

EDL Stopped, Musicians at Arms Fair, Silvertown:

There was a very strong police presence on the streets with police on all sides around the marchers and some mingling with them. The EDL were also on their best behaviour, with many posing for photographs. A couple who arrived in pig’s head masks were forced by police to remove them and hand them over.

EDL Stopped, Musicians at Arms Fair, Silvertown:

There was still a great deal of racism and hate in the comments that were being made and when the march got under way the majority took up the usual Islamophobic chants including “Allah, Allah, who the f**k is Allah“.

There were a small number of anti-fascist protesters in the area, and police tried to keep them well away from the march, although EDL stewards who led away one man with a bleeding face from the crowd alleged he had been hit by a bottle thrown from across the road.

As the march set off, police moved photographers well away, and police handlers with dogs walked in advance of the marchers. Later I was able to get a little closer.

After crossing Tower Bridge I saw red smoke in the distance coming from the ground in front of a row of police vans in Mansell St and rushed there to find a group of around 50 anti-fascist protesters, mainly dressed in black, with red and black flags and a few with Unite Against Fascism placards.

The EDL march stopped for a couple of minutes opposite them and the two sides shouted insults at each other with the police keeping them well apart before the march moved on to Aldgate High Street without further incident. I later heard that the anti-fascists here had been kettled for some hours before many of them were arrested.

I photographed Tommy Robinson addressing the rally, then made my way to where a counter-protest was being held by the community of Tower Hamlets, united in opposing the EDL. I had to go through several lines of police, showing my Press Card. A few officers refused to let me through, but I was able to walk along the line and make my way through.

As I commented, “It was a remarkable change in atmosphere from the feeling of hate and Islamophobia that filled the air with gestures and chanting from the EDL to the incredible unity and warmth of the several thousands largely from the local community who had come out to oppose them and make a statement based around love and shared experience of living in Tower Hamlets with people of different backgrounds and religion.”

There was clearly a determination in Whitechapel, as there was in the 1930s at the Battle of Cable Street which had taken place not far away of a community that had decided that ‘They shall not pass’. And although most had come to protest peacefully, had the police not kept the two sides well apart, the EDL would have been heavily outnumbered by local youths angry at their presence.

I’d left the EDL rally before Tommy Robinson was arrested for incitement, apparently for suggesting that people break some of the restrictions that police had imposed on the EDL march and rally. The police presence had prevented any large outbreaks of public disorder and although the EDL were up in arms over the arrest of their leader had protected them from a severe beating.

More on My London Diary at:
Tower Hamlets United Against the EDL
Anti-Fascists Oppose EDL
EDL March returns to Tower Hamlets


Musical Protest against Arms Fair – Excel Centre, Custom House

I didn’t stay long in Whitechapel but took the tube and bus to Custom House where on the walkway leading the the ExCel Centre East London Against Arms Fairs (ELAAF) were holding a Musical Protest against next weeks DSEi arms fair with a big band and singers and others handing out leaflets opposing the event.

THe DSEi arms fair, held every other year at the ExCel Centre in London Docklands attracts buyers from all over the world, including those from many countries with oppressive regimes. It’s a showcase for the weapons they need to continue to oppress their populations and to wage war on their neighbouring states and others.

There were more and larger protests in the following week against the arms fair.

More at Musical Protest against Arms Fair.


Silvertown

Although the DLR wasn’t running on the branch leading to Custom House, there were trains running on the branch through Silvertown and I walked to there across Victoria Dock on the high-level bridge, taking a few photographs.

The gates to the London Pleasure Gardens which had closed recently only a few weeks after its opening were locked but I was able to take pictures through the gates. I walked on to the elevated Pontoon Dock DLR station and made some panoramas from there before catching a train.

For once the DLR train had a very clean window and I took advantage of this to take some more pictures on the way to Canning Town where I changed to the Jubilee line.

More pictures: Silvertown


Waltham Forest Defeats the EDL – 2012

Friday, September 1st, 2023

Waltham Forest Defeats the EDL: On Saturday 1st September 2012 several thousand people from all Walthamstow’s communities came together as ‘We are Waltham Forest’ to oppose an English Defence League march in Walthamstow.

Waltham Forest Defeats the EDL

Wikipedia has an extensive entry on the EDL, describing it as “a far-right, Islamophobic and generally xenophobic organisation“. Founded in 2009 in Luton after a small group of Muslim extremists had protested at a regimental parade of troops returning from Afghanistan, the EDL attracted support from former members of other right wing groups including the BNP and various groups of football hooligans, with ‘Tommy Robinson’ soon emerging as its leader. The EDL was at its height in 2012, but defeats such as that in Walthamstow precipitated its decline, with new extreme right groups emerging.

Waltham Forest Defeats the EDL
One Fabric – Our Space is Love

The EDL had picked Walthamstow as a target for their rally because of the large Muslim population in the area which is in one of London’s most diverse multicultural boroughs. Only just over a third of the borough’s residents describe themselves as ‘White British’ and the borough “has the fifth largest Muslim population in England and the third largest in London… after ..neighbouring Newham and Tower Hamlets.”

Waltham Forest Defeats the EDL

That mix of communities was reflected in the rally opposing the EDL march, both in the speakers and in the audience, and the ‘We Are Waltham Forest’ campaign was supported by many of Walthamstow’s community and faith organisations, incluing 14 mosques in the borough, bringing together around 4,000 people onto the streets.

Waltham Forest Defeats the EDL

After the rally people marched to the main road where the EDL had planned to march to their rally, going past shops and buildings where people came out, many waving and cheering in support. There was some angry chanting and shouting against the EDL, but this was a very friendly rally and march with people from all backgrounds and all ages mixing.

When the reached the road on which the EDL had planned to march, hundreds sat down on the street, blocking it and refusing to move, while others stood back and watched. I left at the point to find the EDL who were marching from a station on the edge of the town centre.

I came upon what looked like a police march, with the EDL surrounded by more officers than there were marchers.

I reported “As I took pictures a number of the EDL shouted abuse; others put their hands over their faces, and one rushed towards me, putting his hand over my lens before police pushed him back. It was hard to get good pictures because there were so many police around the march, though as I continued to receive threats and insults I was pleased that the police were there.”

The were a few residents out on the street, and some had banners against the march. They were greeted with racist abuse, as were others on the pavements who were abused simply because they were Muslim or Black. As I followed the marchers there was only one elderly man who came out of his home to support them.

Clearly it was going to be impossible for the march to continue along its planned route. Police attempted to take them to their rally point through some back streets, where police managed to drag away protesters (and photographers) for the march to continue before it was finally stopped on a road close to the rally point.

I walked on to where a small group of EDL including leaders Tommy Robinson and Kevin Carroll were setting up for the rally on the pavement behind barriers. Police were keeping the road clear with a large group of counter-protesters on the opposite pavement. An EDL steward stopped me from taking pictures, calling “over a police officer who insisted despite my showing my press card to him that I left the area. I unhitched a barrier and went to the other side.”

Kevin Carroll

The organisers of ‘We Are Waltham Forest’ had asked that the protest remain a peaceful one, but some of the counter-protesters clearly had other ideas and were starting to throw sticks and stones across the road towards those setting up the EDL rally. A small brick landed a few yards from Robinson, and was picked up by him and handed to a police officer as evidence. I moved to one side to avoid being hit if more objects were thrown.

Tommy Robinson

Most of the ‘We Are Waltham Forest’ marchers had now left the area, but there was still a fairly large and angry crowd opposing the EDL. It seemed clear to me that the rally could not go ahead, and after I left police reached the same opinion. The police kept the EDL marchers kettled on the side street for some hours after their leaders had packed up and left. When the Met found that the RMT were unwilling to let the EDL marchers onto trains they arrested most of them and took them in vans to various police stations where they were released in the early hours of Sunday morning.

The EDL had clearly suffered a major defeat and there were posts from many of them on social media of having been made a laughing stock after the event.

Many more pictures from the event on My London Diary at Waltham Forest Defeats the EDL.


Chelmsford & Marikana

Friday, August 18th, 2023

Chelmsford & Marikana – On 18th August 2012 I travelled out of London to Chelmsford where an extreme right march was protesting against the building of a mosque, with a rather larger protest opposing them. I travelled back into London where a protest had been arranged at short notice against the shooting of striking miners by police in South Africa.


EDL Outnumbered in Chelmsford – Essex

Chelmsford & Marikana

I think this was my first visit to Chelmsford, the county town of Essex although it is only around 30 miles northeast of London and the journey from Liverpool Street station takes just over half an hour. But I didn’t much enjoy my time there and though I’m sure its an interesting place I’ve not been back since.

Chelmsford & Marikana

My day started fine as I walked from the station to the Unite Against Fascism rally in the middle of the city and mingled with the crowd there taking pictures. Everyone was friendly and I had no problems taking photographs.

Chelmsford & Marikana

But then I went to the pub where the English Defence League (EDL) wer gathering for the start of their march, where I was met with abuse and threats and one man complained to the police about my taking pictures. Some others more happily posed for me, making V signs but I was pleased the pub railings were between them and me, and when the police, who had told the complainant that I was within my rights to take photographs, politely asked me if I would move away to to avoid further upsetting the EDL I was pleased to do so.

Chelmsford & Marikana

I crossed back to the opposite side of the road where over photographers and TV crews were standing, and photographed the EDL Essex Division spokesman Paul Pitt who was being interviewed, polite and smiling for the camera, denying that the EDL were racist and promising “there will be no violence from us.

As the march formed up behind several banners I stayed in front of them with the other photographers, not getting as close as I usually like to do to avoid any further trouble. Despite Pitt’s claims the marchers were singing some of their usual Islamophobic EDL songs, and as the march moved off a rather large and fat marcher came towards me as I was taking pictures and said: “I hope all your family die of cancer.

I left the EDL march as it turned into the street leading to where they were to hold their rally and returned to the UAF rally, passing a huge police presence with various fences and cordons across roads to ensure the two groups were kept apart.

The UAF were in the middle of the busy shopping area and as soon as the police had sealed off the street where the EDL were holding their rally the UAF were allowed to march, going around the outside of that area.

The atmosphere on the UAF march was very different. It was several times as large with many more placards and banners and much louder, with almost continuous chanting calling for an end to the racist provocations of the EDL, though usually rather less politely. And the people were certainly much more friendly.

Two EDL supporters appeared at one point and began to loudly shout ‘EDL!, EDL!’ but police quickly moved them away and held them until the march had passed, warning them not to interfere with it again.

More about the march and many more pictures on My London Diary at EDL Outnumbered in Chelmsford.


Solidarity with Marikana Miners

I went back to the station and caught the train back to London and then got on the tube to Hyde Park Corner where, close to the station, a small group of protesters had gathered outside building where Lonmin, the owners of the Marikana mine, then had offices.

The killing of the 34 miners at Marikana in South Africa two days earlier had appalled many around the world and this emergency protest had been called as the news broke. But it was too short notice to draw a large crowd.

Lonmin, previously even more infamous as Lonrho, only occupied a small suite on the top floor of this recently refurbished office building. The building seemed empty and was firmly locked when the protesters arrived and there was nothing on the outside or visible through the glass doors of the lobby to indicate that this was the base of one of the world’s larger platinum mining companies, listed on the London Stock Exchange, with a revenue in 2014 of US$ 965 million.

After protesting outside the offices for around an hour the group decided to walk to South Africa House in Trafalgar Square and hold a rally there.

A speaker on the pavement in front of South African House told us how the massacre at Marikana fitted in to the pattern of exploitation and oppression that has characterised the mining industry in Africa. Conditions in many of the mines are terrible, with little or no attention to health and safety issues, and miners are on low wages.

One of Lonmin’s board members at the time of the massacre was Cyril Ramaphosa, who a few months later became Deputy President of South Africa and in 2018 President. Many blamed his emails putting pressure on the police to intervene for the shooting.

The older South African National Union of Mineworkers, a member of the Congress of South African Trade Unions COSATU which has strong links to the governing African National Congress (ANC) is seen by many workers to have done little or nothing to improve pay and conditions in the mines. Many miners including those at Marikana had joined the breakaway Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (AMCU) which represented over 70% of the Lonmin workers and had led the strike.

Solidarity with Marikana Miners


UAF, EDL and Pride – 2013

Thursday, June 29th, 2023

UAF, EDL and Pride : Ten years ago on Saturday 29th June 2013 my work began in Hyde Park where anti-fascists had gathered to oppose an EDL march – for which very few had arrived. I left to photograph the 2013 Pride London event.


UAF Oppose, EDL Don’t Come – Hyde Park

UAF, EDL and Pride - 2013

Police had banned the EDL from marching past the East London Mosque in Whitechapel and from any assembly or procession in Woolwich where Lee Rigby had been cruelly slaughtered under the Public Order Act.

UAF, EDL and Pride - 2013

Instead they had allowed a march by the EDL from Hyde Park to a rally near Parliament, and had also allowed Unite Against Fascism to march in protest against the EDL.

UAF, EDL and Pride - 2013

But the two EDL leaders, Stephen Lennon and Kevin Carrol had called themselves ‘charity marchers’ and had turned up in Tower Hamlets and been arrested by police. This news was relayed to the UAF supporters in Hyde Park and they gave a loud cheer. There were at most a hundred of them, and they had intended to march to the starting point of the EDL march, but none of the EDL had turned up. I left to photograph Pride.

More at UAF Oppose, EDL Don’t Come.


Pride Celebrates Love and Marriage – Baker St – Trafalgar Square

UAF, EDL and Pride - 2013

Over 150 groups had turned up for the 2013 Pride Parade to welcome the equal marriage Bill in England and Wales and celebrate the love that binds the London LGBT+ community together and links it with the wider community.

They included many of the figures I had photographed at previous Prides over the years – such as ‘The Queen’ , including some I had photographed back in the 1990s.

As always, some of the costumes were spectacular, while others were, frankly, just very odd. But variety is of course the spice of life, and there was certainly no shortage of spice.

My pictures show many of the individuals taking part, as well as smaller groups, but no the more commercial aspects of the parade which now tend to dominate. And I also like to show those using the occasion to make a political point. Pride is still for some a protest.

After photographing the marchers at the start – always where the most interesting photographs of the event can be found, I made my way to Trafalgar Square to photograph people arriving at the end of the parade.

By the time the march ended I’d been on my own feet too long and went home.

Many more pictures at Pride Celebrates Love and Marriage.


Refugees, Sharia and Islamophobia

Tuesday, June 20th, 2023

Refugees, Sharia and Islamophobia: In 2000 the UN June General Assembly declared that June 20th every year is World Refugee Day on which, as the UNHCR web site puts it, ‘the world celebrates the strength and courage of people who have been forced to flee their home country to escape conflict or persecution. The 2023 theme of World Refugee Day is “hope away from home.”’

Back in 2010 it was celebrated with parades including one in London. Also on Sunday 20th June there was a rally by One Law For All calling for an end to Sharia and other religious laws, opposed by a small group of Islamic extremists, who were opposed by Islamophobic EDL supporters, in turn opposed by largely Asian East Londoners.


Umbrella Parade for Refugees – Whitehall to Geraldine Mary Harmsworth Park.

Refugees, Sharia and Islamophobia

The London Umbrella Parade for refugees was organised by a partnership of groups including Amnesty International, British Red Cross, Oxfam, Refugee Action and Student Action for Refugees working with ECRE, the European Council on Refugees and Exiles, and the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees.

Refugees, Sharia and Islamophobia

The umbrella was “a symbol of care and shelter, representing our proud tradition of offering safety to those in need of international protection,” a tradition that was then clearly under threat from the UK Borders Agency, with forced deportation flights in which refugees are returned to an uncertain future in Iraq, with beatings on the flight and on arrival.

Refugees, Sharia and Islamophobia

Since then we have seen successive Home Secretaries racheting up increasingly racist anti-refugee policies, now clearly and deliberately flouting international laws. The UK once had proud tradition and well-deserved reputation for upholding human rights, playing a leading role in establishing these human rights laws it is now breaking.

Refugees, Sharia and Islamophobia

IN 2010 I wrote “Competition between the political parties to be even tougher on immigration and appease the right-wing press have serious eroded the chances of refugees and asylum seekers receiving humane treatment and proper consideration in the UK.” Things have travelled much further only this inhumane path since then.

I walked with the campaigners from the Defence Ministry in Horseguards Avenue down Whitehall, past the Houses of Parliament and across Westminster Bridge. The march ended with a picnic in Geraldine Mary Harmsworth Park outside the Imperial War Museum. The start and finishing places were chosen appropriately as most refugees and asylum seekers are a result of war.

More pictures at Umbrella Parade for Refugees.


No Sharia – One Law For All – Whitehall

Maryam Namazie speaking opposite Downing St

One Law for All campaigns against Sharia and religious arbitration in the UK, Iran and across the globe. They say these religious laws are discriminatory against and promote violence against women and have no place in the 21st century.

They want to end “religious laws and theocracy and promote secularism and the separation of religion from the state, education, law and public policy as a minimum precondition for the respect of human, women and LGBT rights.”

They have have campaigned for an end to Islamic regimes in Iran and Afghanistan, and have recently been involved in the Woman, Life, Freedom protests in London and elsewhere, promoting the Woman, Life, Freedom Charter.

Their rally opposite Downing St on 20th June 2010 came on the anniversary of the the killing of Neda Agha-Soltan in Iran, and after the rally the several hundred taking part marched to the Iranian Embassy in Kensington.

A short distance away were a group of mainly young Muslim men dressed in black and holding posters and flags. The called themselves ‘Muslims Against the Crusades’ or ‘Muslims Against Crusaders’ widely thought to be a reincarnation of the banned ‘Islam4UK’ (itself a relaunch of the banned Al-Muhajiroun.) One of their banners proclaimed ‘Sharia Will Dominate The World’.

In my 2010 account I quote from Maryam Namazie of One Law for all, writing on the Iran Solidarity blog:

“The battle against Sharia law is a battle against Islamism not Muslims, immigrants and people living under Sharia law here or elsewhere. So it is very apt for the Islamists to hold a counter-demonstration against our rally. This is where the real battleground lies. Anyone wanting to defend universal rights, secularism and a life worthy of the 21st century must join us now in order to push back the Islamists as well as fringe far Right groups like the English Defence League and the British National Party that aims to scapegoat and blame many of our citizens for Islamism.”

My London Diary

During the rally police escorted a small group of EDL supporters along Whitehall to opposite the Muslim protesters where they shouted insults and threat at both them and the photographers who went to take their pictures. After a few minutes they were led away to a penned protest area further south of the One Law For All rally.

A second much larger group were then brought down Whitehall, much more carefully surrounded by police, making them hard to photograph. Some carried Unite Against Fascism placards and most of the several hundred were young British Asians. Earlier the UAF and United East End had marched frpm Stepney Green to a rally at Whitechapel against the EDL and this group had marched to confront them in Westminster. But by the time they arrived the One Law for All rally had ended and the Muslims Against the Crusades had left.

After some minutes photographing the young Asians, including one man being rather forcefully arrested, mainly having to work over the heads or between their police escorts, I rushed after the One Law For All marchers to take more pictures.

I didn’t make it to the Iranian embassy. By the time the march was passing Victoria Station I decided I was tired and had taken enough pictures and got on a train to begin my journey home.

I wrote about this and posted pictures of the One Law for All campaigners at No Sharia – One Law For All but separated out the photographs of the other protesters into posts at Muslim Crusaders For Sharia, EDL Oppose Muslims Against Crusades amd UAF Arrive to Oppose EDL



Nicaragua, Votes for Women & Al Quds

Saturday, June 10th, 2023

Nicaragua, Votes for Women & Al Quds – Events in London on Sunday 10th June 2018


End Government Killings in Nicaragua – Trafalgar Square

Nicaragua, Votes for Women & Al Quds

Nicaraguans protested in Trafalgar Square against the violence in their country where since the 19th of April police had killed over 100 protesters and a injured more than 600, and many have been unjustly detained, tortured and raped.

Nicaragua, Votes for Women & Al Quds

President Daniel Ortega first came to power during the Nicaraguan Revolution as a leader of the Sandinista National Liberation Front which ousted the US-supported Samoza dictatorship, becoming leader of the ruling junta which replaced them in 1984 and getting a large majority in the country’s first free and fair presidential election in 1985. His government then implemented a number of leftist policies despite widespread campaigns against him by the US who supported rebel forces and imposed a full trade embargo on the country, even mining its ports.

Nicaragua, Votes for Women & Al Quds

Massive US interference in the 1990 Nicaraguan general election led to his surprise defeat and he also stood and lost in 2001, but was returned to power following the 2006 elections, though on a much lower vote than in 1985 against a very split opposition.

Nicaragua, Votes for Women & Al Quds

Since coming to power in 2007, Ortega has abandoned most of his leftist principles, becoming increasingly dictatorial and alienating many of his earlier supporters. Popular protests which began in 2018 against his social security reforms which increased taxes and reduced benefits were violently repressed and further measures have included closing down newspapers, universities and NGOs. Leaders of the political opposition including some former colleagues were jailed for the 2021 election.

This repression has led to many fleeing the country, particularly to neighbouring Costa Rica where over 30,000 Nicaraguans have claimed asylum. Ortega remains in power, with his wife Rosario Murillo as Vice President since 2017.

End government killings in Nicaragua


100 years of Votes for Women

Women marched through London in three strands wearing head scarves in one of the purple, white and green suffragette colours to celebrate a hundred years since the 1918 act gave wealthier older women the vote.

The 1918 Act brought the vote to all men over 21, as well as those like my father over18 serving in the armed forces, but women had to be both over 30 and meet a property requirement. It was another ten years before my mother and other women could vote on the same terms as men with the Representation of the People Act 1928.

Under the 1918 Act, “Women over 30 years old received the vote, but only if they were registered property occupiers (or married to a registered property occupier) of land or premises with a rateable value greater than £5 or of a dwelling-house and not subject to any legal incapacity, or were graduates voting in a university constituency.”

Around 8.4 million women in the UK got the vote in 1918, but there were still around 5 million of women over 21 without a vote – and there were still around 7% of the population, mainly male middle-class university graduates who had an extra vote either in university constituencies or in the constituency where they owned business premises.

Sadly when my mother did get the vote she used it to support the Conservative Party, displaying their poster in our front window at every election. My father, who kept quiet about his politics to avoid conflict at home, went into the polling station every time to cancel out her vote with one for Labour.

Many more pictures at 100 years of Votes for Women.


Al Quds Day Protests – Saudi embassy, Mayfair

A large crowd squashed into barriers on the street in front of the Saudi Arabian embassy for a rally in support of the oppressed people of Palestine and others around the world.

The event, organised by the Justice for Palestine Committee, was supported by the Islamic Human Rights Commission and a wide range of pro-Palestinian organisations, and opposed by the Zionist Federation and some right wing hooligans, who were stopped from attacking the peaceful event by a large police presence in the area.

The official Zionist Federation protest which was perhaps a little smaller than in some previous years kept behind the barriers provided for them a short distance from the Palestinian protest, and the two groups shouted insults at each other.

There were also a number of well-known Zionist protesters along with some right-wing football supporters active in the EDL and other racist organisations wandering the streets of Mayfair. Police made an effort to keep them away from the Palestine protest, and at one point this involved some fairly forceful policing as the thugs were taken away. Not all of the right-wing are thugs, and later when I went home I was pleased to meet a man who knew me and walked with me to make sure I didn’t get troubled by any of the others still around.

As a colleague remarked to me, there may well have been more Jews taking part in the pro-Palestine rally than opposing it, as the Al Quds day event was supported by several groups and numerous individuals from the Jewish left as well as the ultra-orthodox Neturei Karta, who as always attracted a great deal of venomous anti-Semitic shouting from the Zionists.

Celebrated in many countries, Al Quds Day, established by the Islamic Republic of Iran in 1979, has been marked in London for over 30 years.

This year’s event was a gesture of defiance to the demonisation campaign and the ongoing murders by Israeli troops of innocent Palestinian protestors in the Gaza Strip commemorating 70 years since Israel was formed on expropriated Palestinian land.

More about the protest and many more pictures on My London Diary:
Al Quds (Jerusalem) Day
Zionists protest against AlQuds Day


Bike Theft, Tributes, Housing Benefit, Fascists & UAF

Saturday, April 1st, 2023
Bike Theft, Tributes, Housing Benefit, Fascists & UAF

Saturday 1st April 2017 turned out to be a busy day in London, though the buses in my picture on Westminster Bridge were not then going anywhere – and the driver of the No 12 at the front of this row was taking a rest from his seat. Various protests and the police had brought traffic to a stop. As in many other months you can see more of my pictures taken as I travelled around in a London Images section.


Motorcycle Theft Protest Ride – Westminster

Bike Theft, Tributes, Housing Benefit, Fascists & UAF

I’d vaguely wondered about paying another visit to the Ace Café on the North Circular Road at Stonebridge, but not riding a bike I would have felt something of an outsider, and the journey back to central London by the Bakerloo line wold have taken me around 40 minutes and I would have missed other things that were happening.

Organised gangs are still making rich pickings around the whole of London – and one of my neighbour’s had his bike targeted a few months ago, but the two men cutting through a substantial lock were spotted from the house opposite, and ran away when they were challenged halfway through.

Bike Theft, Tributes, Housing Benefit, Fascists & UAF

In 2017 there were reported thefts in London of 8,131 motorbikes, 4,121 moped and 3,218 scooters, a total of almost 15,500 thefts. That amounts to one for every 7.5 powered bikes registered in the city. Motorcyclists came with a petition to the Mayor of London and the Home Secretary to give the police greater resources to tackle this crime, and for them to give it higher priority, for more ground anchors in bike parking bays and for tougher sentencing of offenders.

Motorcycle Theft Protest Ride


Flowers for London Victims – Westminster

Bike Theft, Tributes, Housing Benefit, Fascists & UAF

Ten Days after the Westminster terror attack by a deranged driver, people were still stopping to look and and photograph the flowers for the victims, around the lamp standards on Waterloo Bridge, along the whole of the front of Parliament Square and in front of New Scotland Yard in its new building on the Victoria Embankment, where an eternal flame also remembers all police who have died while doing their duty.

There was a long strip of tributes along the front of Parliament Square opposite were PC Keith Palmer was killed to him and the others who died.

More pictures Flowers for London Victims.


Youth protest over housing benefits loss – Parliament Square

A grass roots group of young people, ‘#1821Resist’, were in Parliament Square to protest against the scrapping of housing benefit for young people which coming into force on this day.

They say that under Tory rule since 2010 homelessness has doubled and that this change will continue to leave vulnerable people without homes, making it almost impossible for them to get into work or education.

Youth protest over housing benefits loss


Iraqis protest US killing in Mosul – Downing St

Iraqis, mainly women dressed in black, were protesting opposite Downing St against the killing of civilians by US and Iraqi forces during the assault on Mosul. Attacks on the city, then held by the Islamic State (ISIL) begun in October 2016 and continuing until ISIL were defeated there in July 2017. According to Wikipedia (and the BBC) “The battle was the world’s single largest military operation since the 2003 invasion of Iraq and was considered the toughest urban battle since World War II.”

The women said that hundreds have been killed by US air strikes after being told to stay in Mosul; people were stopped from leaving were then bombed. The protest was organised by a group of Iraqi women, one of whom told me a nine-year old relative in Mosul had died earlier today. The photographs they held up showed some of the results of the US bombing.

Iraqis protest US killing in Mosul


Britain First & EDL exploit London attack – Westminster

Extremist right-wing groups including Britain First and the EDL (English Defence League) were quick to exploit the London terror attack to fuel their anti-Muslim and anti-migrant racist propaganda, both organising marches. Police had imposed restrictions on both marches confining them to particular short routes to rally points on the Emabankment. London Antifascists and Unite Against Fascism (UAF) who had come to opposed them were only allowed to hold a static protest.

I was able to photograph Britain First at their designated meeting point in the taxi area outside Charing Cross station where their leader Paul Golding arrived with a van full of flags and handed them out, while his deputy Jayda Fransen was busy talking to the media.

The EDL were supposed to be meeting in Trafalgar Square, but were actually gathering in their usual pub, Lord Moon of the Mall, close to the top of Whitehall. Police were busily and rather forcefully keeping back a crowd of antifascists against the shops on the opposite side of the road, injuring a few of them in the crush. Police behind them were shouting at them to go forward, but police in front were preventing them from doing so.

I photographed the EDL on the pavement in front of the Lord Moon of the Mall over the shoulders of a line of police protecting them, but left as police pushed them back inside the pub and returned to Britain First at Charing Cross station where they were getting ready to march.

There were few people on the street as they marched down to the Embankment for a rally, but a couple of women shouted at them calling them racists. Police stopped the marchers from moving towards them, but they had to refuse a Britain First fake-news team who tried to stop them for an interview.

I listened to the rally for a few minutes then tried to go back up Northumberland Avenue to photograph the EDL march, but it was hard to see for police surrounding it. The police quickly went to grab one woman who started to shout at this march.

But the police relaxed their cordon when the marchers reached their rally pen on the Embankment and I was able to walk past them and began to take pictures.

But after a couple of minutes one of the stewards saw me and objected to me being their and called on the police to remove me, after which I had to photograph over the shoulders of the police. One of the officers came to tell me off for having been in with the marchers, but I simply told her I had every right to be there. Shortly after I decided to leave as I had taken enough pictures, and I decided to go to photograph the counter-protesters.

More at Britain First & EDL exploit London attack.


UAF protest extreme right marches

Police had decided that the UAF could only hold a static protest on the Embankment rather than their intended and already advertised march to there from South Africa House in Trafalgar Square, despite ‘facilitating’ the two extreme-right marches. The UAF had turned up at South Africa House on the morning and police had slowly with unnecessary force pushed them down the march route as I’d witnessed earlier in the day.

From the EDL rally I could see and just hear the Unite Against Fascism rally taking place perhaps a hundred yards away down the Embankment, shouting ‘Fascist Scum off our streets’ and other slogans. From the speeches I had heard at the two right-wing rallies both groups were clearly racist and Islamophobic and among the marchers I recognised many faces from clearly fascist organisations I had photographed in the past.

I could see and hear that there were speeches at the UAF rally but not make out what was being said from the distance and over the noise. I tried to walk down towards the UAF but police would not let me take the short direct route despite my showing my press card.

I had to walk back and out onto Whitehall and then around to get to be back of the UAF rally, and by the time I got there many of the counter-protesters had left for home and the speeches had ended, though there were still rather more around than at the two right-wing rallies combined.

UAF protest extreme right marches


Marine A, Mandela, CPS Fail & Cops Off Campus

Tuesday, December 6th, 2022

Four unrelated events kept me busy on Friday 6th December 2013.


EDL Protest Supports Marine A – Downing St, Friday 6th December 2013

Marine A, Mandela, CPS Fail & Cops Off Campus

In November 2014, a court martial found Marine A, Sergeant Alexander Blackman guilty of murder for his killing of a wounded Taliban insurgent in Helmand Province, Afghanistan. On the day his sentence was due to be announced the extreme right-wing EDL called a protest opposite Downing St, calling for a minimal sentence, arguing that he acted under extreme pressure and that his victim was a terrorist.

Marine A, Mandela, CPS Fail & Cops Off Campus

Although the EDL had predicted 500 would come, only fewer than 50 were there when I came to take photographs, and there were no placards and little to tell people why they were there, just the usual EDL flags, some with the message ‘No Surrender’, though quite a few of those taking part were wearing ‘I support Marine S’ t-shirts. Among the flags was one for the ‘Taliban Hunting Club’, with a skull with red eyes inside a gunsight and crossed guns, which seemed in particularly poor taste for this event.

Marine A, Mandela, CPS Fail & Cops Off Campus

The Geneva convention which Blackman said at the time of the killing he had just broken is an important protection for serving soldiers and many of them had strongly condemned the cold-blooded killing of a prisoner by Marine A and called for an appropriate sentence.

Later in the day Blackman was given a life sentence with a minimum of 10 years. Later this was reduced to 8 years, and after an appeal in 2017 the murder verdict was reduced to manslaughter on the grounds of diminished responsibility with a prison sentence of 7 years, though his dismissal with disgrace from the Marines remained in place. There had been a large public campaign calling for his release or a more lenient sentence and a general feeling that his initial trial had been unfair, with his commanding officer not being allowed to give evidence and a generally poor performance by his defence team. He was released from prison the following month having served sufficient time.

EDL Protest Supports Marine A


Tributes to Mandela – London, Friday 6th December 2013

Nelson Mandela died in Johannesburg on the previous day, Thursday 5th December, and people brought flowers to the Nelson Mandela statue in Parliament Square.

There were more flowers at South Africa House in Trafalgar Square, where a long queue waited patiently for several hours to sign a book of remembrance in the High Commission.

Tributes to Mandela


Bereaved protest at CPS Failure – Southwark Bridge, Friday 6th December 2013

Families whose loved ones have died in custody held a protest outside the offices of the Crown Prosecution Service in Rose Court at their failure to successfully prosecute police officers and others over these deaths. Since 1990 there have been 1433 deaths and not a single conviction.

The last successful prosecution brought against a police officer was for involvement in a black death in custody was in 1972, after the death of David Oluwale in 1969. Police officers have been prosecuted for several other black deaths in custody – Joy Gardner, Christopher Alder and Mikey Powell – but none of these cases was successful.

The standard response given by the CPS for not bringing prosecutions is that there is ‘not enough evidence to prosecute’. The reason is often that police hide or destroy evidence and fail to carry out any proper investigation of these cases from the start, failing to treat them as a crime but more as something to be covered up. Often the officers responsible for the deaths are are simply not questioned, and in some cases they refuse to answer questions. CCTV evidence is often not available with equipment problems being cited, and officers have often falsified their evidence to protect themselves or their colleagues.

Among those who spoke was Marcia Rigg, whose brother Sean Rigg was murdered in Brixton Police Station in 2008. She began her speech with a tribute to Mandela. An inquest the previous year had concluded that the police had used “unsuitable and unnecessary force” on Rigg, that officers failed to uphold his basic rights and that the failings of the police “more than minimally” contributed to his death.

In March 2013 three police officers were arrested who had clearly committed perjury at the inquest but the CPS decided not to charge them. Later after a review forced by the family one was charged but despite the evidence was unanimously acquitted by the jury in 2016.

More at Bereaved protest at CPS Failures.


‘Cops Off Campus’ Protest Police Brutality – Bloomsbury, Friday 6th December 2013

London University management was trying to ban all protests on the campus and had called in police the previous day when students had occupied part of the Senate House. Police appear to have used excessive force in removing the students and on Friday 6th a large group of students had come out to protest against them and the University calling police onto the campus.

The previous day’s protest had been over the privatisation of student fees, but there were other issues, including the university’s intention to close down the student union, seen as a part of their aim to end all protests. Students have also been taking the side of low paid staff who work in the universityy, particularly the cleaners, security and catering staff and supporting their campaigns for a living wage, proper sick pay, holidays and pensions which they are denied as their work is outsourced. It was largely protests over this that had led the university management to try and ban all protests.

Today’s student protest was intended to be an entirely peaceful and orderly march around some of the various sites of the university in the area to the west and north of Russell Square, but the police had come apparently determined to stop them, with police vans down every side street.

There were a few short speeches outside the University of London Union and then the students marched to the locked gates of Senate House and shouted slogans. When they attempted to move off to march around the block their path was blocked by police, with a few students who tried to go past being thrown roughly backwards. The students wanted to keep the protest peaceful – there were many more than enough of them to have pushed their way through had they wished to.

Behind them at the other end of Malet Street was another line of police, with more blocking the only side-turning away from the campus. The only route free was onto the campus and the walked past SIAS and out onto Thornhaugh St, where they turned left to Woburn Square and on to Torrington Place. Here they found the gate to UCL was locked and guarded by security. They turned into Gower Street, saw more police coming up behind them and rushed into UCL. After a short time there they decided to make their way by the back streets to Torrington Square and the student union. I’d had enough walking and took a more direct route, meeting them as they arrived back. It was getting rather dark and I’d done enough walking and I then left to catch a bus on my way home.

I could see no reason for the way that the police had reacted to a peaceful march around the University; it seemed to be simply trying to show the students who was boss by preventing what appeared to be a peaceful protest, and a reaction which created considerably more disruption in the area than the protest itself as well as representing a terrible waste of public funds. But I’m sure some of the police were grateful for some extra overtime with Christmas coming up.

More at ‘Cops Off Campus’ Protest Police Brutality.