Saturday 1 June 2013

Lewisham - a united community defends the Islamic Centre

Saturday 1 June marks a defeat for the British National Party (BNP). 

Nick Griffin started the week hoping that he could rebuild support for the BNP's racist lies on the back of the callous murder of soldier Lee Rigby in Woolwich. Yesterday, swayed by the strong community support for unity rallies in both Lewisham and Woolwich, the BNP were instructed by the Police to abandon their planned march to the Lewisham Islamic Centre (LIC). Today, he was only able to gather together a small and heavily outnumbered group of BNP supporters in Central London.

While the LIC and NUT had felt able to call off our planned rally in the light of the ban on the BNP's march, (
leaving some of the protestors who would have rallied in Lewisham to travel to the Westminster counter-protests instead, three of us from Lewisham Trades Council kept our promise to provide protective stewarding outside the mosque, just in case of any attempted provocation from either the BNP or EDL.

In the end, there was no sign of any trouble all day. There was a united and celebratory mood outside the Centre as we stood with members of the LIC Management Committee in the sunshine to chat and discuss with the many other local residents and trade unionists who passed by during the day. We were well rewarded with food and coffee too!

On a final note, Nick Griffin  has been making a great play of the fact that the LIC stands next to a Wing-Chun and Yoga school which, according to his twisted logic, provides clear evidence of a sinister 'training centre'. In reality, this is a long-standing martial arts centre run by a respected Wing Chun instructor, well-known to a good (socialist and atheist!) friend of mine, offering classes across the whole community.

Nick Griffin, regrettably, doesn't let such a mundane reality get in the way of his propaganda. However, in London he found that there were many who were prepared to stand in his way.

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