THE BLOG

I Will Not Stop Challenging Ukip's Racism

28/04/2017 17:13 BST | Updated 28/04/2017 17:13 BST
CHRIS J RATCLIFFE via Getty Images

On Friday I joined other Stand Up To Racism campaigners at the launch of UKIP's election campaign. This followed Paul Nuttall's announcement that, among the rest of their anti-migrant and Islamophobic agenda, UKIP would campaign to ban the Burqa.

This call has nothing to do with defending women's rights. It has everything to do with UKIP demonising the Muslim community, just like in France last year when politicians campaigned to ban the Birkini.

Why should anyone have the right to tell Muslim women what to wear? UKIP and their kind are constantly targeting people who just want to get on with their lives. It shows the nature of their party, it shows their racism.

We were ejected from the press conference, quite forcefully, when we raised what we thought was the problem with UKIP's agenda.

I thought it was important that we protested. UKIP are not just an ordinary party. They want to cause division, they want to scapegoat people because of their religion. I went to their election launch to show that we won't simply stand back and let them get away with it.

In recent months, in the wake of the EU referendum we've seen a spike in the number of hate crimes in the UK.

Among the victims have been a number of Muslim women. My friend Nahella Ashraf, another Stand Up To Racism activist was attacked in a chip shop last January in Hammersmith West London, where a man attempted to rip off her hijab.

The kind of statements made by Nuttall and UKIP lay the ground for these attacks by making us a target. They legitimise the idea that Muslims are an "enemy within" rather than just ordinary people.

UKIP are in a mess. In their desperation to win votes UKIP are echoing the even nastier rhetoric we hear from the fascist Marine Le Pen. Donald Trump has targeted American Muslims with his attempted "Muslim ban". We are not going to allow that kind of thing to happen here, whatever Nuttall and UKIP think.

It's obviously not just UKIP that have targeted the Muslim community. The Tories Prevent agenda has been all about criminalising Muslims and intimidating our community into silence.

It was the ex-Tory leader David Cameron who had the cheek to describe Muslim women as "traditionally submissive", well we're not!

I think it's time we got organised against the racism aimed at Muslims, against migrants and against refugees. Whether you are a Muslim, a Jew, a Christian, a trade unionist or a student we all need to stand together against division.

I've been working with Stand Up To Racism on their "Keep racism out of the election" campaign, more here. I was one of the speakers at the 30,000 strong Stand Up To Racism demo in March, on UN anti-racism day, supported by the TUC. And I'm speaking at this Tuesday night's (2 May) Unite Against Fascism meeting on Le Pen, Trump and the rise of racism - 7pm, at Conway Hall Event page here.

I'm not going to keep quiet while racists organise.