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Written by Student Rights on 22 October 2016 at 10am

Students protest neo-Nazi presence on-campus

Students at Royal Holloway held a counter-demonstration today to show their opposition to the presence of a Racial Volunteer Force (RVF) protest on their campus.

The extremist group, formed by former Combat 18 members in 2003, had announced its members would be appearing at the university to support cleaners it claims were sacked for attending an anti-Semitic protest.

The university confirmed this in a statement yesterday, saying it would be working with Surrey Police in response to a protest planned outside the campus gates, and that increased security would be present.

In 2005, five members of the RVF, including founders Mark Atkinson and John Hill, were jailed for inciting racial hatred in the RVF magazine, Stormer.

This praised the Soho nail bomber, David Copeland, and gave instructions on how to make a bomb, as well as including headlines such as “Roast a Rabbi” next to a picture of a petrol bomb.

In response to the planned protest, students at Royal Holloway wrote:

Neo- Nazi organisations should not be free to act publicly without a strong counter demonstration to denounce their dangerous, racist politics.

We feel that when fascism rears its ugly head it is important to stand up to it. A peaceful counter- demonstration sends a clear and decisive message that fascism is unacceptable.

Pictures posted on Twitter by the Royal Holloway Students’ Union newspaper, The Orbital, showed the protest going ahead, with students heavily outnumbering less than a dozen RVF members.

In response to the protest, Royal Holloway released a statement which said:

Our College has also worked closely with students who wish to voice their views to make sure that they can do so safely, working with the police to make sure all protestors, regardless of their position are able to make their opinions heard peacefully.

Royal Holloway champions the right to peaceful protest, bearing in mind that any member of our community who engages in behaviour that is unlawful, or that does not reflect the principles the university values, such as diversity and equality will be challenged.

Here at Student Rights, we welcome the peaceful student protest against the RVF, and are glad that the university has given students the opportunity to challenge the poison of the far-right.

While speakers from far-right groups are rarely invited onto campuses, their activists have shown themselves increasingly willing to target universities, and it is vital institutions are able to deal with the threat to students’ welfare that this poses.