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Far-right protesters including man in Trump mask attack socialist bookshop while chanting about Muslims

Group threaten staff at London store while hurling around books about Islamophobia

Mattha Busby
Tuesday 07 August 2018 01:35 BST
Far-right protesters including man in Trump mask attack socialist bookshop

The owners of Britain’s largest socialist bookshop have said the store was attacked by masked far-right protesters who chanted fascist songs and threatened staff.

Authors and an MP were moved to express solidarity with workers at Bookmarks Bookshop, on Bloomsbury Street in central London, after around a dozen people stormed in on Saturday night.

It followed the conclusion of a "Make Britain Great Again" protest against the censoring of a conspiracy theory website nearby.

The far-right group filmed their actions before swiftly deleting the video from their YouTube channel, however a copy was saved and uploaded again on the channel Far-Right Watch.

It shows protestors screaming abuse, tearing up signs on display in the shop, and brandishing books with titles they disapprove of.

"This horrific attack on a radical bookshop should send shivers down the spine of anyone who knows their history," said Dave Gilchrist, manager of Bookmarks.

"The Nazis targeted books because they knew how important radical ideas are for challenging racism and fascism. The same is true today, and that is why we have to show that we won’t be intimidated.”

The store declared that following the “fascist attack” it would be calling for solidarity in response, saying: “Under attack, we fight back!”

Stand Up To Racism, the anti-fascist pressure group, said one of the attackers ransacking the shop wore a Donald Trump mask while others carried placards reading “British Bolshevik Cult”.

A member of staff told the organisation that books on Islamophobia were "ridiculed and thrown around".

"They chanted about Muslims and paedophilia, and called us traitors. While not mentioning Tommy Robinson, the links are there to see," the worker said.

Stand Up To Racism added that the attackers threatened to return and picked a copy of The Jewish Question off the shelf, "holding it aloft as proof of the antisemitism of the left".

Michael Bradley, speaking on behalf of the group, said: "Luckily no one was hurt this time, but this is a sinister development that indicates the growing confidence of the far right who feel they can attack a bookshop in central London in broad daylight.

"Attacking a bookshop also exposes their claims to be defenders of free speech as hollow."

Demonstrators with the same placards were seen earlier in the day protesting against Facebook’s decision to suspend American conspiracy theorist Alex Jones and his Infowars channel for bullying and hate speech.

Others wore “Make Britain Great Again” caps.

MPs were quick condemn the attack. Ealing Central and Acton MP Rupa Huq denounced the “utterly despicable” incident in a tweet, saying: "Free speech and independent bookshops – under threat in an age where intolerance and Amazon flourish – should be cherished. Utterly despicable."

Tottenham MP, David Lammy tweeted: “The normalisation of far right politics is already leading to chaos and vandalism on our streets.

"Fascist thugs attacking book shops is the logical conclusion to a political movement which rejects facts and experts. We need to be vigilant.”

Support also came from singer Billy Bragg, who wrote on Twitter: "Bookmarks socialist bookshop has been attacked by mask wearing fascists. Send them your solidarity".

His post was shared by children's author Michael Rosen, while writer Jonathan Coe tweeted "this is shocking".

Police said they were called to reports of a protest inside the shop at around 6.30pm.

“Police received a second call a short time later stating that the group had left the premises after causing some damage inside the shop,” said a Met Police spokesperson.

“There were no injuries. An appointment has been made for officers to speak with the complainant. No arrests have been made.”

Bookmarks, the Trades Union Congress official bookseller, offers a selection of books on activism, economics and history. It is running a fundraiser and solidarity event next weekend and asking for donations to bolster security and replace lost stock.

The original video posted on YouTube was entitled "MAKE BRITAIN GREAT AGAIN INVADES COMMUNIST BOOKSTORE".

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