Tuesday 26 May 2009

Anti-Muslim mob runs rampage through Luton

A “patriotic” protest held in Luton on Sunday, supposedly in support of British troops, ended up attracting far right hooligans from around the country. Hundreds ran rampage through the town, intimidating local people and attacking Asian residents. Nine rioters were arrested, several cars were damaged and an Asian-owned business had its windows smashed.

Andrew from Love Music Hate Racism (LMHR) in Luton reports: “I walked out of my front door to be greeted by around a hundred protesters running across the dual carriageway at the top of my road. Some of them had their faces covered with masks or wore black balaclavas. Their placards read ‘No Sharia Law’ and they were chanting ‘Terrorists Out’.

“They went on to enter a residential street and later returned to the very centre of town, where they attempted to break past police on several occasions. Onlookers of all ages and groups in the town centre at that time were running for cover. It was very intimidating. They were banging on Asian shopkeepers’ windows.

“One of our LMHR supporters spoke to some of those who had turned up to the protest. They were almost all white and male. They said they had come from as far away as Cornwall, Bournemouth and London.”

The demonstration was organised by groups calling themselves “United People of Luton” and “March For England”. Both groups claim to have no links to political parties, although a previous demonstration held by them in Luton on 13 April attracted known members of the fascist British National Party (BNP).

Luton has become a focus for far right activity in recent months following the controversy over a protest by a small Muslim group against British troops coming back from Iraq. Racists have used the protest as an excuse to whip up hatred against the town’s Muslim community. The Luton Islamic Centre was firebombed on 5 May.

Weyman Bennett, joint secretary of Unite Against Fascism, said: “This riot bears all the hallmarks of the far right. This is what a BNP Britain would look like. We’ve always argued that the BNP is not like the other political parties – it is a fascist organisation dedicated to using racist thuggery to spread fear and hatred on our streets.

“Protests such as these, no matter what their declared intentions are, will invariably attract BNP elements and other far right hooligans. Organisers of a recent St George’s Day parade in Sandwell, Staffordshire, insisted that they would do everything they could to keep the BNP away. But the party’s leader Nick Griffin turned up anyway and dominated media coverage of the event.

“If the BNP gets seats in European elections, we can expect more of this sort of racism and violence. That is why it is so important for everyone who opposes the BNP’s thugs and bigots to turn out and vote against them at the elections on Thursday 4 June.”

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