Ken Livingstone condemns anti-Muslim protest in Harrow and warns of ‘return to the 1930s’

Ken Livingstone, chair of Unite Against Fascism and former mayor of London, spoke out today against the anti-Muslim rally called by far right organisations outside Harrow Central Mosque this Friday. Livingstone said:

“If anyone were to call a demonstration outside a synagogue or church, this would rightly provoke a national outcry. There should be exactly the same response from the government, politicians, all religious faiths and the media to the call for a demonstration outside a mosque. The only possible meaning of this event is a protest against Muslims and Islam – a religion followed by more than a billion people in the world.

“People should wake up to the fact the protests outside mosques are taking us back to the fascism of the 1930s when fascist thugs marched against Jews and their places of worship. This demonstration should be condemned and banned on the grounds of blatant religious discrimination and a threat to public order.”

The anti-Muslim protest has been called by groups such as the BNP-linked “English Defence League” – which ran riot in Birmingham last weekend, throwing bottles at Asians and making Nazi ‘sieg heil’ salutes – and “Stop the Islamisation of Europe”, which declares that it is against all Muslims and all forms of Islam. They are calling their protest on the anniversary of the 9/11 in an attempt to whip up hatred against all Muslims by falsely branding them as terrorist sympathisers.

Unite Against Fascism has called a vigil and rally to defend the mosque from these anti-Muslim bigots. Speakers at the rally include Tony McNulty, MP for Harrow East, and Navin Shah, the London Assembly member for Brent & Harrow. The anti-racist vigil is backed by a variety of local community organisations and trade unions.

Weyman Bennett, joint secretary of Unite Against Fascism, said: “Nobody should be fooled by the bigots when they claim that they are ‘not racist’ or ‘peaceful’. They are here for one simple purpose: to intimidate and abuse the Muslim community. Back in the 1970s the National Front would march through black areas on the pretext of opposing ‘mugging’. Today the racists and fascists use opposition to ‘Islamic extremism’ in the same way.

“We all have a duty to show solidarity with Muslims in the face of these racist provocations. We will bring together people from all of Harrow’s different communities to send a clear message to the racists: we will defend our multiracial and multicultural society – and anti-Muslim bigots are not welcome here.”

Unite Against Fascism press release, 10 September 2009