Guardian columnist allegedly assaulted by far-right group

The Guardian columnist and activist Owen Jones was attacked in front of a bar in London where he and his friends were leaving after celebrating his 35th birthday by a group of up to four males, the Guardian reported on Saturday.

The attackers also assaulted Jones’ friends as they attempted to intervene in the early hours of Saturday morning, around 2 am.

Jones blamed the attack on “the rise of an emboldened far-right, which is increasingly violent, and targeting minorities and people on the left”, calling it “a blatant premeditated assault.”

Jones was reportedly kicked, punched and thrown to the ground by the group who charged directly towards him and later his friends when they tried to defend him.

Jones said he was repeatedly targeted last year in the street by far-right activists who attempted to use physical violence, and homophobic abuse. A far-right activist had allegedly taken pictures of him and posted threatening messages and a video.

The columnist said police had been alerted to the incidents as he was subjected to escalating threats of violence and death.

“I’ve had the police involved,” he said.

In the past eight or nine months, there had been a “dramatic escalation” in the level of threats targeting him and others, Jones said.

According to Jones, the far-right groups were being radicalized by what he calls “hate preachers” in politics and the media.

“We all know who the hate preachers are: one of them is the most powerful man on earth, the occupant of the White House. But there are also multiple politicians and people in the mainstream media who deliberately stoke tensions, who demonize minorities and who demonize the left,” the activist said.

Jones said he was “just a symptom of a wider phenomenon, an emboldened, increasingly violent far right.”

Jones said he would take some precautions, but not make any changes to his schedule of media and political activities.

“The far-right is trying to achieve political ends through coercion and violence, so there is no way I am going to change. Yes, I will take precautions, but I will be at my protests, fighting against racism, for socialism. What could I have done? I am not going to be intimidated. I am not changing my politics.”

The victim was left with a bump on the back of his head, with no medical treatment being required.

Police are seeking the attacker of the group who ran off into the night, with no arrests having yet been made.

The attack stirred outrage from various quarters.

“We deplore the outrageous attack on Owen Jones that took place late last night. Violent assaults on journalists or activists have no place in a democratic society,” said Katharine Viner, editor-in-chief of the Guardian and Observer.

Jeremy Corbyn, the leader of Labour Party, said the far right was on the march in the United Kingdom (UK), adding that “an attack on a journalist is an attack on free speech and our fundamental values.”

Diane Abbott, a Labour lawmaker, posted a Twitter message, saying, “the times we live in are increasingly dark and dangerous.”


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