Unite Against Fascism protested together with PCS members outside the Home Office facing an English Defense League protest against the government in not contesting the European Court of Human Rights and deport Abu Qatada.
Unite Against Fascism protested together with PCS members outside the Home Office facing an EDL protest against the failure of our "cowardly, spineless government" to defy the European Court of Human Rights and deport Abu Qatada.
The EDL protest took place as it was announced that Home Secretary Theresa May intends to deport Abu Qatada expecting that the assurances she has received from the Jordan authorities will convince the Special Immigration Appeals Commission that these satisfy the requiremnts of the ECHR. However it seems likely that Qatada will appeal against this decision, thus delaying his deportation, and many believe that there is still no way he can receive a fair trial if he is deported. He was re-arrested this morning and the SIAC sat this afternoon and refused him bail.
Abu Qatada has never been charged with any crime in the UK; there have been allegations by the British authorities that he has advised terrorists here, but he has never been tried for this. He was convicted in Jordan in his absence and on the basis of evidence obtained under torture for plotting attacks against tourists in that country for its millennium celebrations
Unite Against Fascism see the protest as a threat to the many black and ethnic minority Home Office staff and visitors by "the EDL’s racist and fascist thugs outside their workplace." The PCS general secretary Mark Serwotka said that his union was "also fully committed to opposing the EDL whose disgusting politics of hatred and division have no place in our communities. This [EDL] demonstration is clearly designed to do nothing more than intimidate and stir up racial tension, and it should be stopped." Home Secretary Theresa May was asked to ban it but refused to do so.
Home Office staff are not allowed to be members of far-right organisations such as the EDL. here were PCS members taking part in the counter protest with the Home Office branch banner, but PCS members working at the Home Office were also prohibited from taking part by their employer.
Around 50 UAF and PCS supporters had arrived by the time the EDL protest had been scheduled to start and a few more came later, but at that point there was a large pen with just one EDL supporter, with others rumoured to be gathering outside parliament. The UAF began a short rally, with speakers including Weyman Bennett and Martin Smith, which was still continuing ten muinutes later when another 20 or 30 EDL turned up; a smaller group came later still so that their numbers were then just a few fewer than the UAF.
For some time the two groups shouted loudly at each other, the UAF accusing the EDL of being racist and in particular Islamophobist and mentioning the links and e-mail exchanges between the EDL and Norwegian killer Anton Breivik. In return the EDL accused the UAF of supporting terrorists, of "Not Being British Any More" and made various libellous personal insults about Weyman Bennett and Martin Smith.
The UAF then drew back to the entrance area outside the Home Office and held another short rally before ending their counter-protest as planned at 3pm.