Last week we saw two huge protests within the U.K. The first being the protest against Trump’s visit on Friday where it is estimated that over 250,000 people attended in central London to tell Trump that he is not welcome and never will be. This is the biggest protest in the U.K. since the Iraq war protest in the early 2000s. The second protest was against the FLA (Football Lads Alliance) who were marching in support of Trump, Tommy Robinson and freedom of speech.
As we all know, Trump is a racist, misogynistic, xenophobic, homophobic, transphobic, sexist individual who was voted in as President of the United States by targeting minorities within the country such as Muslims, Mexicans or Black people and scapegoating them for various issues in order to gain votes and become President. Since then we have seen him and his administration attack the rights of the LGBTQ+ Community, Black people, Mexicans, Muslims and others. His rise to power has empowered other right wing organisations across Europe to stand up and “claim back” their country from immigrants and Muslims.
The election of Trump has sparked the debate once again surrounding freedom of speech, which is where Tommy Robinson and the FLA come in. There is however a difference between freedom of speech and hate speech which a lot of these supports do not seem to comprehend. Freedom of speech means we can hold and express opinions and ideas, and criticise people in power. This does not however make hate speech okay. The Public Order Act 1986 makes intentional expression of racial hatred a criminal offence.
The notion that Islamophobia for example is not racism as Islam is not a race is an argument that comes up very often when the far right wish to justify their behaviour towards Muslims. However, regardless of how they wish to word it, they tend to associate anyone brown to be Muslim and anyone Muslim to be a terrorist or a member of a grooming gang. Just last month, the FLA marched in Leeds and a few days after there were arson attacks on a Mosque and a Gurdwara. Coincidence? No, not really.
Whenever any right wing group such as the EDL or Britain First for example came to Coventry I would often question them about why they have the views that they have, but all I would get back is “f**k off back to your country you p**i” or “BOOM!” or even “you interested in my young daughter you f*****g rapist”. For me it is clear that no one is willing to actually engage in a conversation about their views and why they hold the views that they hold which is when this problem begins to worsen and create further tension.
As a third generation British Indian in this country it does genuinely astonish me that there are white British people in this country doing the Nazi salutes as if Germany and the rest of the world didn’t go to war? But also demonising and targeting people whose origins are from the countries that helped Britain during World War 1 and 2. Of course there is a problem with terrorism and grooming gangs but it’s not just a small group of people who label themselves as Muslims? There are white terrorists and white grooming gangs in the country as well. Instead of trying to target a small section of society and blame them for our problems, we should instead be looking at the wider problem and realise that regardless of religion or skin colour, evil people will always be evil people. Terrorism has no colour, evil has no colour, so why do a small minority within this country still choose to scapegoat and target an even smaller minority within the country for its problems.
If anyone is to blame it’s the failed system: the failed justice system, the failed education system, the failed economic system and the failed political system; not just in this country but all over the world. People’s needs are not met and the most vulnerable in society are often the ones who are affected the most. Everyone is entitled to their views but I also think people need to take a look at the bigger picture and realise that the scapegoats that the media and government use are only pawns in a much larger game…