Extremist speakers at UAF Conference 2014
On 14 June, Unite Against Fascism (UAF) is holding its annual conference. UAF is a project of the Socialist Workers’ Party, a Marxist group that supports the violent overthrow of liberal democracy in favour of a totalitarian Marxist regime. Recently, the Socialist Workers’ Party voiced support for Hefezat-e-Islam, an extreme Islamist group in Bangladesh, which advocates the death penalty for “atheists” and others whom they claim “defame Islam.”
Predictably, a number of problematic speakers are due to give talks at the 2014 conference.
Peter Tatchell, a prominent gay rights campaigner, has noted: “UAF commendably opposes the British National Party and English Defence League but it is silent about Islamist fascists who promote anti-Semitism, homophobia, sexism and sectarian attacks on non-extremist Muslims.”
The UAF is not, however, just silent; it is actively complicit. It has, on a number of occasions, joined in with the Al Quds Day March — an annual Iranian-organized parade in Tehran, London and a number of other European cities – in which crowds chant and march in support of the Iranian regime, the Lebanese terrorist group Hezbollah, and the Palestinian terror group Hamas.
The UAF’s Assistant Secretary, Martin Smith, also a leading member of the Socialist Workers’ Party, is a vocal supporter of Gilad Atzmon, a Holocaust denier who has argued that burning down synagogues is a “rational act.”
Following the murder of a British soldier by Islamists in Woolwich, the UAF recently held a demonstration called “Don’t Let the Racists Divide Us.” One of the speakers was Shakeel Begg, an imam at the Lewisham Mosque, where the Woolwich terrorists worshipped. Begg is a well-known hate preacher who describes jihad as the “greatest of deeds.” He was previously the Muslim chaplain at Kingston University in London, where, during one address to students, he advised, “You want to make jihad? Very good… Take some money and go to Palestine and fight, fight the terrorists, fight the Zionists.” He is also an outspoken supporter of Al Qaeda terrorists imprisoned in Guantanamo, whom hedescribes as “inspiring.”
Despite the connections to hate preachers and extremists, Unite Against Fascism enjoys support from scores of MPs, including Prime Minister David Cameron, who is a founding signatory. A number of critics have suggested that the UAF and other “anti-fascists” are just as violent as their ideological opponents. Former members have accused the UAF of inciting racial hatred and encouraging violence, and on a number of occasions, the police have blamed the UAF for violence.
Speakers at the 2014 UAF conference include:
Lutfur Rahman is the Islamist Mayor of Tower Hamlets who, journalist Andrew Gilligan reports, “achieved power with the help of the Islamic Forum of Europe, an extremist group that wants a sharia state in Europe… [then] hire[d] a man with close links to the IFE, Lutfur Ali… [to allocate] council grants, which flooded in their millions to a range of front groups for the IFE.”
Diane Abbott is a Labour MP who was widely criticised after claiming that “white people love playing divide and rule” and that “West Indian mums [as opposed, presumably, to white mothers] will go to the wall for their children.” In 1995, she co-founded the Committee for Peace in the Balkans, whose other founding members included “Sir Alfred Sherman, who had spent the previous couple of years advising Radovan Karadzic and Ratko Mladic, the well-known war criminals and ethnic-cleansing experts,” as well as “strongly pro-Serbian Labour MP Bob Wareing.” The Committee, writes academic Tom Gallagher, was “disinclined to Serbian actions in the conflict” from the start.
Talha Ahmad is a senior official in the Muslim Council of Britain (MCB), a Jamaat-e-Islami/Muslim Brotherhood organisation whose former Deputy Secretary-General signed the Istanbul Declaration, which called for terrorist attacks on British troops and Jewish communities around the world. The MCB has also boycotted Holocaust Memorial Day on a number of occasions.
Jean Lambert is a Green MEP and outspoken supporter of late Venezuelan dictator Hugo Chavez, with whom she shared a platform in 2006 and said, “President Chavez deserves recognition for the changes and achievements he has made in Venezuela over the last few years… I applaud his moves to an equitable society…”
Salman Farsi is the Media Officer for the East London Mosque Trust. In May 2014, the East London Mosque hosted a “six-week evening course” with Imam Fadel Soliman, an extremist Egyptian preacher who has called for the killing of American soldiers in Iraq, claimed that the punishment for “fornication” is “100 lashes”, and supports amputation as punishment for theft.
Azad Ali is the Head of Community Development & Engagement at iEngage. Azad is also linked to the fundamentalist Islamic Forum of Europe, and was once suspended by the civil service for blog posts that appeared to refer supportively to the killing of British soldiers in Iraq. He lost a libel case against the Mail on Sunday in this regard after the judge, Justice Eady,found that he “was indeed … taking the position that the killing of American and British troops in Iraq would be justified.” Ali has further described the late al-Qaeda leader Anwar Al-Awlaki as “one of my favourite speakers and scholars” and claimed that, despite some disagreements, Awlaki had “an uncanny way of explaining things to people, which is endearing.” Ali has also admitted to attending “many talks” by hate preacher Abu Qatada. Ali was filmed by Channel 4 undercover reporters saying, “democracy, if it means at the expense of not implementing the sharia, of course no one agrees with that.”
Weyman Bennett is the UAF joint secretary, who in 2010, was arrested on suspicion of conspiracy to organise violent disorder. In 2009, at a demonstration against Israel’s conflict with Hamas, Bennett reportedly demanded that Israeli Jews “should go back to where they came from … New York or wherever.”