On September 28, supporters of the “Islamic Human Rights Commission” — actually an Islamist group with links to Islamic Republic of Iran — marched through London to mark “Al Quds day”.
The day of action is supposedly in solidarity with the Palestinians, but in fact was launched by Ayatollah Khomeini in 1979 to strengthen international support for his Islamist counter-revolution. About 300 people took part, similar to last year.
Stop The War Coalition (dominated by the SWP) and George Galloway’s Respect sponsored the march, though only one Respect member was bold enough to turn up, and no SWPer did.
Workers’ Liberty members, a few other British socialists and members of the Worker-communist Party of Iran turned up to counter-demonstrate, as did a larger group of broadly nationalist and, as it turns out, rightish Iranians. We demonstrated awkwardly next to each other until a third group turned up, composed of supporters of the “March for England” organisation, a nationalist group with English flags who are almost certainly some variety of fascists, though they denied it.
Our left contingent did not have the numbers to drive them off, so we asked the non-socialist Iranians to help us. Instead, their organiser, Potkin Azarmehr, was overheard telling the “March for England” people to “just ignore the communists”. At that point, we separated ourselves off to create our own distinct demonstration, one which shouted anti-fascist as well as anti-Islamist slogans.
March for England soon showed their true colours in full technicolour, shouting “Hang them”, “No surrender” and “White power” as the Al Quds march went by. Meanwhile the Iranian nationalists continued to mingle with these racists; in fact Azarmehr was seen embracing the March for England organiser.
This is an absolute disgrace. We were there to protest against the Islamists (afterwards we actually joined their rally, where we leafleted before getting into some heated arguments and having the police called to move us on); but if the fascists had attacked a demonstration made up mostly of British Asians, we would have joined the demonstrators in fighting them off. Clearly for the Iranian nationalists present, fascistic bigotry as fine — as long as its anti-Islamist. Naturally, we have nothing in common with such a perspective.
For the Al Quds counter-demonstration next year, socialists should get organised enough in advance to create a mass, clearly left-wing and internationalist mobilisation which scum like March for England and their apologists will come nowhere near.