The far-right group Britain First has issued threats against Muslims in a press release, stating it is planning to “launch a direct action campaign against Muslim elected officials, at all levels of politics”. The list of politicians it plans to target includes Sadiq Khan (Mayor of London), Sajid Javid (cabinet minister), Mohammed Altaf-Khan (Mayor of Oxford), Hussain Akhtar (Mayor of Blackburn), and Shafique Shah (Mayor of Birmingham).
Their hate campaign was announced in a press release which denounces all democratically elected Muslims as “occupiers” who are “trying to take-over our political system”. They claim people should “stand by for a flurry of direct operations”. And in a direct threat of violence and harassment state, they said:
Our intelligence led operations will focus on all aspects of their day-to-day lives and official functions, including where they live, work, pray and so on.
Just days after UKIP leader, Nigel Farage, threatened violence if he loses the EU referendum, we have another far-right party threatening politicians in their personal and work lives, attempting to create fear and intimidation, and stoking the already well-fanned flames of Islamophobia and racism.
It’s not hard to imagine what would happen if an Islamist group made the same kind of threats against politicians. It would be labelled terrorism, those involved would be arrested, and every moderate Muslim in the country would be called to justify and/or condemn the actions of a few extremists.
But political parties of the far right seem free to threaten violence, harassment and intimidation without fear of reprisals. And it’s not as though that violence isn’t manifesting itself on the streets. At a recent protest in Dover, fascists attacked coaches of anti-fascists at a service station in Maidstone, damaging vehicles and daubing a swastika in blood on the side of one of the coaches. Later that day, a photographer ended up in hospital after being attacked and beaten with a flag pole. The assailant, Peter Atkinson, has been sentenced to seven years imprisonment.
It’s not all bad news, though. Communities across the country regularly turn out to oppose fascist demonstrations, showing they are not welcome on our streets and that their vile racism does not speak for the rest of us. This was seen in Leicester at the weekend when Britain First attempted to hold a street stall. They were surrounded by people shouting “racists are not welcome here”, before having to be escorted from the area by the police.
The violence of the far right should worry us all, especially when it is being espoused by groups hiding behind the legitimacy of a political party (like UKIP and Britain First). These parties lull people in with popular slogans but at a deeper level thrive off people’s fears. They pit ordinary people against each other and distract us from the fact our problems are really caused by the ruling elite. These parties do not speak for the majority of Brits, and it down to us, the majority, to ensure we oppose them at each and every opportunity.
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