Workers Hammer No. 236

Autumn 2016


Defend the Rotherham 12!

In August 2015 an 81-year-old Muslim man, Mushin Ahmed, was savagely beaten and kicked to death by racists when he was on his way to his local mosque. Several hundred came out to protest on 5 September 2015 when the fascist Britain First group was holding a march in the town. When the anti-fascist demo, after being “kettled” in one spot for hours by the police, was then forced to pass a pub known to be a gathering place for violent, racist gangs, the protesters were attacked. They defended themselves, and twelve men were arrested and charged with offences including “violent disorder”. These twelve Asian men were targeted for having stood up courageously for their community in the face of race terror; we join those in the Rotherham 12 Defence Campaign to demand: Drop the charges now!

The Britain First demo was one of a steady stream of racist provocations against Asians, following the sensationalised 2014 trial and conviction of a group, including Asian men, on charges of rape and indecent assault. The murderers of Mushin Ahmed shouted “groomer” when they attacked him. A Daily Mirror article noted that Rotherham “has become a magnet for right-wing groups like the English Defence League, Britain First and the BNP”, and described marches in which people “arrived in their hundreds, many wrapped in England flags and chanting anti-Muslim slogans” (25 October 2014).

Rotherham like nearby Sheffield was once at the heart of Britain’s booming steel industry. But as elsewhere in northern England and former industrial areas of Scotland and Wales, South Yorkshire was crippled by the deindustrialisation carried out by Britain’s capitalist rulers over decades, with the few remaining steel jobs today under threat. Former textile manufacturing towns such as Bradford and Oldham were decades ago turned into lakes of unemployment, poverty and desperation, and there too the Asian community was scapegoated for widespread misery. The Rotherham arrests echo those in Bradford in the summer of 2001 when Asian youth fought back in defence of their communities against provocations by National Front and BNP fascists. An occupying army of cops moved in and subjected these youth to mass terror and arrest, and the courts meted out long prison sentences.

Racist outfits are taking their cue from the racist “war on terror” that has been wielded against Muslims by every government from Blair onwards. Minority communities must not stand alone when under siege by racist scum: the multiethnic trade union movement must be mobilised in defence of Asian as well as black and immigrant communities. Demonstrations by fascists must be smashed by trade union/minority mobilisations, drawing on the power of the organised working class throughout the north of England. The Rotherham 12 are due to appear in Sheffield Crown Court on 3 October. If convicted they could face lengthy prison sentences. Join the Rotherham 12 Defence Campaign in protesting on 3 October outside the court to demand: Defend the Rotherham 12! Drop the charges now!

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The Partisan Defence Committee, a class-struggle legal and social defence organisation associated with the Spartacist League, has made a donation to the Rotherham 12 Defence Campaign. We urge readers to do the same. Contact the Rotherham 12 Defence Campaign: