Community groups from both sides of the border are preparing to unite in the face of provocation from a right-wing pressure group.
Bodies including the transport union RMT, the Berwick upon Tweed and District Trades Union Council and Unite Against Fascism have banded together to form the Berwick & Borders Anti Fascist Alliance.
The move comes ahead of a protest by the Scottish Defence League (Borders Division) scheduled to take place in Berwick on Saturday, February 16.
On that day the Alliance will hold a counter demonstration in the High Street, from 11am. Before that, on Saturday February 9 the Alliance will set up a stall of anti-fascist leaflets and information in the town centre, between 11am and 1pm.
In their first ‘Unity Statement’ the BBAFA condemned the SDL as: “A racist organisation with an established record of mounting protests which regularly feature racist chanting, placards and Nazi salutes. At their recent demonstration in Edinburgh this year, the SDL held placards of the swastika, the emblem of the openly racist and Nazi Greek political party, known as ‘Golden Dawn’.
“The SDL’s sister group, the English Defence League, has a record of attacking meetings of unions, and students. Both organisations and their members had sympathetic contact with Norwegian mass murderer Anders Brievik and expressed their support for his ideas after his sentencing.”
The statement recalled the SDL’s previous visit to Berwick,when a demonstration in April 2011.
“As their last effort in Berwick showed they bring in members and sympathisers from elsewhere with an intention to promote racial hatred. In particular, we find it abhorrent that such a message of hostility and Islamophobic scapegoating should be allowed to be paraded though our town. Berwick is a welcoming town with good community relations. We object to the SDL’s attempts to disrupt the good community relations in Berwick and to spread racial hatred. Please join our counter demonstration on February 16.”
A spokesperson for Unite Against Fascism echoed fears that the SDL may attract other far-right groups: “The SDL are a racist organisation with ties to the English Defence League and have recently shown support for the neo-Nazi Greek Golden Dawn Party which uses a symbol resembling a swastika. We want to show that Berwick is proud of its multi-culturalism and that these uninvited racists have no place on our streets.”
If you would like to add your name to the BBAFA Unity Statement, as an individual or on behalf of a local community group or employer, you can email: firstname.lastname@example.org