Got to the rally today in Stepney Green Park about 30 minutes late, and wandered around talking to people I met, some I already knew others through friends.
I was complaining that I thought the sound system was a bit crappy, and then asked someone if Council Leader Helal Abbas has spoken yet?
Two ladies holding collection buckets for ‘Unite Against Fascism’ told me that he’d already been on and had apparently been booed off stage.
I asked why, and they told me that this was because of him banning the conference at the Troxy. I told them that I didnt think he’d banned it, and that it was because of people pressure. Playing dumb I told them that I’d heard there had been some sort of conference or something that had been going on that had caused some controversy.
One replied no, going on to say that;
“The EDL were going to attack the Troxy, just because there was a muslim conference there”
I then told them I thought it was going to be a protest not an attack. Telling them also that I done some minor research, and found some quite disturbing statements about some of the speakers, none of which i knew the truth of. The first I reiterated that I’d read that one of the speakers, seemed to condone violence towards women, and another called for the death of homosexuals.
Then one of these women just looked at me and walked away, the other then started to argue her position that we;
“live in a country of free speech,”
and kept parroting on about the evils of the EDL. I could see all of her points about the EDL, but to be honest it felt like some party political broadcast.
For an hour or so I watched speakers get up and make some excellent speeches regarding unity, rascism, jobs, and some other great debatable topics. Sorry if this was rather short, I was more engrossed in the people in the crowd, talking to them and getting their views, and sampling the gorgeous bombay mix that people were selling with salad and lemon juice i think. One thing I would say is that I thought the sound system for the rally in stepney park was poor, and I had trouble hearing most things said.
Later on, I watched George Galloway walk off stage, where he was called over by a young asian guy. I overheard this young guy, state;
“George, why dont you tell them what happened this morning?”
George replied “what?”
and the young guy went on;
“Two white men, raped a muslim woman in Roman Road this morning”
George just walked away, and one of the stewards in the yellow jackets, told the young guy;
“Dont say shit like that!”
I was at a loss, realising that the bullshit hailer was in full swing today.
I then followed the march out of the Park, up the road, left down Jubilee Street, right onto Commercial Road, right onto New Road, then left down Whitechapel Road past the mosque, and finally into Altab Ali Park.
At the park I watched everyone gather into a peaceful group , packing the park, and all united against the EDL. Then I heard ‘Lutfur Rahman’ speak, he went into a long diatribe about the Troxy, and what was going to be a peaceful islamic conference, informing us that this was cancelled by our Council. That the council had no right to do this, and we must boot out these people and vote for strong leadership for our borough. Thats when it finally hit me, thats when I finally realised two things.
One that ‘Lutfur Rahman’ supported the Islamic Conference and apparently by castagating the council in this way, that this was an admission that he could see no harm in allowing this type of ‘hate speech’ (if the allegations are true) into the borough, and Two, that what I was witnessing was not solely about the EDL, it was about voting for our new soon to be elected Mayor. I also understood that most others there in the park today, could not see what I could, maybe I’m alone in this, maybe my suspiciouns are wrong. Maybe there all paranoid delusions, maybe I’m sullied by my own twisted mind, but I felt dirty then, like I’d been used.
Galloway who came on next talked, and although I’ve admired the guy in the past, I could not hear him because I was lost in my own thoughts (luckily i recorded the whole speech), and I think Abjol Miah came on next. Then we were all told to go home. What a waste, a few thousand people, that went nowhere, what did we achieve but a short walk through East London, shouting out our unity against percieved rascists attacking the borough.
After taking in the excellent Brick Lane, and gorging myself on an even better Indian meal, I made my way home. I’m now sitting here typing this and flicking through the news channels. I’ve not watched every channel, but havent noticed any reports on this apart from Press TV, an Iranian news channel that managed to attend, but apparently the BBC couldn’t be bothered. At the moment I’ve not seen any reports either online regarding the rally or its substance. So really what was the point? Did we achieve anything but have a peaceful wander through East London all under the banner of anti-rascism, all standing together. Or did something more sinister occur, was this in fact a political rally, organised by members who’s sole concern, could in fact be the upcoming Mayoral elections?, and dressed up in such away, that some speakers present came across as the saviours of Tower Hamlets?