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Stand up to Racism and Unite Against Fascism plan protests over Steve Bannon’s Oxford Union talk

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The Oxford Union announced today at 10am that they plan to host Steve Bannon, former chief strategist to President Donald Trump and former executive chairman of Brietbart News, for an event this Friday (16th November).

Steve Bannon // Credit: Gage Skidmore on Flickr

The event, as advertised, will consist of Bannon’s opening remarks, ‘followed by questions from the [OU] President before opening the floor to the audience’.

The decision to announce last-minute, and with the strict attendance limit of members only, may have been influenced by the widespread condemnation of the Oxford Union caused by the announcement of Alice Weidel (leader of the far-right Alternative for Germany (AfD)) as a guest earlier this month.

Liberation groups had planned protests if the event went ahead. Her OU billing for the 7th of November was eventually cancelled, after Weidel cancelled her trip to the UK citing ‘concerns with the security arrangements for aspects of her travels and engagements’.

There has also been an almost immediate backlash to the Bannon OU event, with protests already being organised by various groups. Stand Up To Racism’s protest, shared by Unite Against Fascism, already has over 100 going and 300 interested on Facebook.

At midday today Oxford Stand Up To Racism posted a joint press-release to the Facebook event page. In it, Ian Mckendrick from Oxford Stand Up To Racism accused the OU of ‘legitimising and normalising far-right, racist views’ by giving Bannon a platform which ‘can only give confidence to racists and the far right to mobilise here’.

Meanwhile Tracy Walsh, treasurer of Oxford Unite Against Fascism, claims ‘We cannot allow the far-right to help fascism become part of mainstream politics again’.

Mckendrick hopes the protests will send a clear message: ‘racists are not welcome here’.

A similar protest has been organised by the Anti-Fascist Network, attracting similar numbers online. AFN told The National Student:

"Inviting Steve Bannon is not some neutral act of "free speech". Bannon is the spearhead of a global white supremacist movement that has encouraged (and carried out) attacks on Queer people, PoC and leftists across Europe and the US. He belongs to the same ideological tradition as the Pittsburgh Synagogue shooter, and in inviting him, the OU has made itself complicit in this movement."

According to Oxford student paper Cherwell, Nick Brown, OU’s secretary, has already called an ‘emergency Standing Committee meeting’ to ‘vote on cancelling the event’.

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