The BNP is riding the wave of racism

The BNP is riding the wave of racism

By Sabby Dhalu

Morning Star, 16 February 2006

The events of the last few weeks have clarified the serious threat that the growing climate of racism in Britain and the rest of Europe poses to us all.

The BNP has announced its intention to make the forthcoming local elections a “referendum on Islam,” riding on a wave of Islamophobia and rising racism.

BNP leader Nick Griffin and party activist Mark Collett were acquitted recently on half of the charges for incitement to racial hatred. The publication and republication of the so-called Danish cartoons have led to protests across the world.

Racism towards Muslims is being presented under the banner of “freedom of speech.”

All these events indicate a legitimisation and deepening climate of racism.

The use of cartoons to create or strengthen grotesque racist stereotypes of entire peoples is nothing new.

In 1930s Germany, the nazis systematically used such so-called cartoons depicting Jewish people in the most dehumanising manner for the sole purpose of creating caricatures that justified their programme of mass extermination of the Jewish people.

Black people have also been subject to such caricatures and depiction by racists and white supremacists in many parts of Europe and north America.

If published, any such images today rightly receive widespread condemnation.

It is incumbent on all anti-racists and anti-fascists to condemn unreservedly the publication of these racist images, for exactly the same reasons as the cartoons in the 1930s needed to condemned.

The argument that these cartoons must be published to uphold freedom of speech is simply an attempt to create confusion about their purpose and impact, which is to provoke the Muslim community and to deepen racism towards it.

It is clear that there are many instances where newspapers and the media refrain from publishing cartoons and other materials because their contents are unacceptable in a civilised society.

It is also generally accepted that there are instances where the right to freedom of speech must be tempered with the right to be free from offence or hatred. Promoting racism is clearly one of these instances.

We must remember that millions of people have died in the fight against racism and for equality. These struggles have been at the heart of human progress over many centuries and are certainly not less important than freedom of speech.

The cynical attempts by the BNP and others who justify racism under the right of freedom of speech need to be resisted.

Only a few days ago, a documentary broadcast on Channel 5 exposed links between the BNP and neonazi rock bands fundraising for the BNP through the sale of CDs and concerts. In Germany, when the nazis took power, the first thing that they did was to end freedom of speech and elections in order to eliminate their opposition.

The BNP presents itself as a legitimate political party when, in realty, it is a neonazi organisation.

It will be seeking to add to its existing 20 council seats at the May 4 local elections.

To combat the threat that the BNP poses, anti-racists and anti-fascists are uniting with trade unionists, black and faith communities, lesbian and gay communities, disability rights campaigners, politicians and people drawn from all sections of society to ensure that it is not allowed access to mainstream politics by increasing its political representation.

The campaign launch will take place at the UAF national conference in London.

Sabby Dhalu is joint secretary of Unite Against Fascism
Speakers at Saturday’s conference include London Mayor Ken Livingstone, murdered black teenager Anthony Walker’s sister Dominique Walker, CWU general secretary Billy Hayes, PCS general secretary Mark Serwotka, UNISON deputy general secretary Keith Sonnett, T&G assistant general secretary Barry Camfield, the Muslim Council of Britain’s Iqbal Sacranie, Michael Meacher MP, Sadiq Khan MP, Linda Riordan MP, Glyn Ford MEP, Salma Yaqoob from Birmingham Central Mosque, Holocaust survivors Leon Greenman and Henry Guterman and the Sikh Federation’s Dabinderjit Singh.

Contact UAF on (020) 7833 4916 for more details and to register.