On Saturday 31st October, former al-Muhajiroun space-cadet Anjem Chaudhry will lead the latest reincarnation of his fringe extremism, now called Islam4UK, on a "March for Sharia" from Parliament to Trafalgar Square.
The numbers that Chaudhry can pull out are likely to be as tiny as they always are, but inevitably the march has attracted the attention of fascists and anti-Muslim right wingers. The English Defence League is otherwise engaged with a protest of its own in Leeds, but Casuals United has promised that its "southern divisions" are planning a counter-demonstration in Trafalgar Square. Another group, England United, has called a separate protest at Piccadilly Circus at midday.
More significantly, however, is the mobilisation amongst British Muslims against Chaudhry's antics. The Muslim Council of Britain (MCB) has condemned Islam4UK but last week Inayat Bunglawala, one of the MCB's most prominent media representatives, went further with an announcement in the Guardian that he has sought permission from the police for a broad based counter protest - one that for once isn't racist and anti-Muslim. Bunglawala's proposal has been enthusiastically welcomed by Shaaz Mahboob of British Muslims for Secular Democracy (BMSD) and looks likely to link up with plans by BMSD to demonstrate against Islam4UK at Piccadilly Circus at 1pm (see also this Facebook group).
Will groups like Unite Against Fascism show their support or will anti-fascists and the left ignore these important initiatives? I hope not. Working together, Muslims and non-Muslims saw off Chaudhry and his mob after the anti-terrorist raids in Forest Gate in 2006 and we need to show our solidarity again this Saturday, or we risk surrendering the streets to the likes of the English Defence League. As Bunglawala says in his article
If you are proud of living in a multi-faith, multicultural democracy where people are free to practise their faith or not to if they so choose, and if you have been appalled at the irresponsible antics of al-Muhajiroun and the Daily Express over the years and the harm they have caused to social cohesion in the UK then please do come along.