Batley community comes together for Stand up to Racism rally

By ANISAH ARIF

The residents of Batley town came together in a rally to stand up to racism and a celebration of diversity within the region.

Anti-fascists also showed support for local councillor Fazila Loonat who was scurriously attacked in the media.

The Labour councillor was under attack in an opinion piece by columnist Danny Lockwood for local newspaper The Press.

Mr Lockwood wrote: “In my opinion, Batley East councillor Fazila Loonat is a dangerous and divisive extremist. She’s a leading member of an anti-British, communist group that is riddled with anti-semitic racists.

“Loonat is a leading local light of the fascist-style group Momentum, which is built on the ‘politics’ of bullying and coercion, of silencing opposition and festering hate amongst British communities.”

Local Stand up to Racism teamed up with partner Momentum and organised Saturday’s rally to display solidarity for Ms Loonat, an equalities officer for GMB Union.

The town is in the parliamentary constituency where Labour MP Jo Cox was murdered by a neonazi two years.

It also borders Huddersfield, where a young Syrian refugee was recently filmed being assaulted and “waterboarded” at school, prompting tens of thousands of online protests.

Shadow home secretary Diane Abbott took time out from campaigning in the region to speak at the rally.

She said: “I wanted to show support for the Muslim councillor who was under attack, and also because the rally was in Batley and Spen, near where a Syrian schoolboy was waterboarded and tortured and, of course, where Jo Cox was killed.

“I wanted to go and stress the Labour leadership’s position against Islamophobia and anti-semitism.

“It was a successful rally. I think it is important to show solidarity. I know what it is to be attacked by the press.”

Councillor Asghar Khan also attended the event, as well as Councillor Javaid Akhtar.

Chaiiwala, a local café business also showed their support by supplying the community with hot chocolate, tea and fresh coffee.

The rally was among others on the weekend where 15,000 demonstrators took to the streets of London to counter-act Tommy Robinson’s UKIP’s protest, as they attempted to capitalise on the government’s Brexit crisis.

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