The last in our series of films about the George Padmore Institute (GPI) is now available! Looking at the European Action for Racial Equality and Social Justice archive collection, GPI trustee Azim Hajee and journalist and activist Mogniss H Abdallah talk about the organisation, its legacy and the importance of the GPI archive.
European Action for Racial Equality and Social Justice (EARESJ or European Action) was an alliance of pan-European individuals and organisations engaged in solidarity to oppose all forms of racism, fascism and Nazism. The alliance was most active during the years 1990-1993 and had strong ties with Germany, Belgium, France and Italy.
The alliance grew following a workshop titled 'Racism, Nazism, Fascism and Racial Attacks: The European Response' (23 March 1990) at the ninth International Book Fair of Radical Black and Third World Books. Similar to today’s problems, the concerning issues of the time included rising racial inequality and social injustice at a moment of increasing unrest and uncertainty following the fall of the Berlin Wall. The economic impact of a sharp rise in unemployment in Europe during the 1991 recession created a fear that foreign workers were taking jobs, leading to attacks on immigrants and increasing support for far-right parties.
European Action was co-chaired by the late Ian Macdonald QC, a leading barrister and specialist in the field of immigration law, and John La Rose, co-founder of the GPI and director of The International Book Fair of Radical Black and Third World Books. Founder members of the alliance include: Gus John, a Grenadian-born Professor of Education; the Jamaican-born poet and political activist Linton Kwesi Johnson; Said Bouamama, a French author; Obi Addy, a black political activist from Germany; and Azim Hajee, current treasurer of the GPI. For a full list of European Action founders please see the archive catalogue.
Azim Hajee was a Prospect Negotiations Officer, representing engineers and professionals in electricity supply and museums. He helped found the European Works Council for Electricité de France, and negotiated their global agreement for corporate social responsibility. He was in the civil service union, PCS, and led the first courts’ staff strike against PFI. In the 1990s Azim worked with John La Rose on European Action for Racial Equality and Social Justice and on the organising committee for the International Book Fair of Radical Black and Third World Books. He was press officer for the Stephen Lawrence Family Campaign. Before that campaigned for black workers’ self-organisation, founding Camden Black Workers Group, and NALGO’s National Black Members Co-ordinating Committee. In 2019, he trekked across Palestine from Nablus Hebron, Jericho, Bethlehem and Jerusalem, and his group collectively raised over £70,000 for Medical Aid for Palestinians.
Mogniss H Abdallah was born in Copenhagen, Denmark. Based in Paris, France, he is a journalist, filmmaker and activist. He also manages Agence IM’média, an independent media network founded in 1983, which addresses issues on migrant life and struggles and working-class neighbourhoods. A former ‘Rock against Police’ organiser (1980-1983), Mogniss has been involved in different initiatives to fight the rising tide of racism, fascism and neo-liberalism in Europe. He regularly attended the International Book Fair of Radical Black and Third World Books in London and joined the European Action for Racial Equality and Social Justice network.
Agence IM’média has published L’Europe multi-communautaire (1990) and co-produced several films in the Europe: Communities of resistance series (1991-1996), including Germany: the Other story; Britain’s Black Legacy and Sweet France.
Mogniss’ articles and books about the ongoing struggles against racist politics include ‘Jeunes immigrés hors les murs’ (EDI, 1982); ‘J’y suis, j’y reste!’ [‘Come what may, we are here to stay!’] (Reflex, 2000); ‘Rengainez, on arrive!’ [Guns down now!] (Libertalia, 2012); ‘Mémoire des luttes de l’immigration en France’ (Gisti, 2014).
Part of the Reaching New Generations project funded by Arts Council England.
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