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On 6 April, Muslim women bravely staged a sit-down protest against the police who wanted them to vacate the Monument in Newcastle so that a motley band of a few fascists could hold their hate protest in the city centre. Socialist Party members, alongside others, stood four-square with them.
Newcastle's Muslim community has been under attack from the far right. One of the women told us she is often spat at, and has had her hijab pulled off.
In the north east local mosques and education centres have also been ransacked and graffitied.
Shamefully, the police harangued these women and those supporting them. Eventually, using a megaphone, the police read out section 14 of the 1986 Public Order Act in order to forcibly move us.
Unfortunately, amidst all this the Socialist Workers Party (SWP), under the banner of 'Stand Up to Racism', took the decision to immediately evacuate the Monument so the far right could occupy the space.
This was done without any consultation with other forces there, including the Muslim women, and meant the counter-demo was divided.
Also, the area where the police eventually corralled everyone was vulnerable to attacks from the far right as it was next to one of the many entrances to the Metro station.
How to deal with aggressive policing in such situations, with open threats of arrest, is an issue that needs to be discussed.
But when the SWP was approached by one of our female members who disagreed with their stance, she was met with a tirade of abuse.
The women from the Muslim community were courageous. We need to ensure that in future the iconic landmark of the Monument is not allowed to be taken over by the far right.
This will require the wider labour and trade union movement to start to take the threat of the far right seriously and organise accordingly.
Far right (159)
Article dated 10 April 2019
The Socialist, weekly newspaper of the Socialist Party
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