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Is the EDL Racist?

This is my first video based blog addressing the many lies that the EDL employ in attempting to deflect criticism and winning wider support. The most strenuously denied accusation is that they are a racist organisation. Whilst anti-Muslim bigotry uses near identical tactics of demonisation, dehumanising tropes and negative stereotypes to classic racism, the excuse that Muslims aren’t a race is too easily deployed as an obstacle in the path of the accuser. For this reason I have only included examples of pure racism in this video. I have also chosen not to include neo-Nazism which would by definition qualify as racist behaviour, as I plan on addressing this in a future blog.

It could be argued that racist language by individuals at 8 demos which have drawn up to 3,000 supporters over a period of 4 years isn’t conclusive proof that the EDL is a racist organisation. I would counter that by saying that leaders, organisers and stewards at demos are required to instruct attendees not to use racist language, which is an unusual request to make of adults in a non-racist organisation. It’s also worth noting that at no point in any of the clips does anybody challenge or question the use of racist language. I would also point out that cameras are not able to capture the words of every demonstrator at every march for the duration of the day.

To bolster my case I have included links below to screenshots taken of EDL members on social networking sites using explicitly racist language. This is just a small sample taken from their reaction to the riots of summer 2011 and the Stephen Lawrence trial.

Click images to enlarge

EDL Riots 2

EDL Riots

EDL Riots 3 EDL Riots 4 EDL Riots 5

EDL Riots 7 EDL Riots 8 EDL Riots 9

EDL Riots 10 EDL riots 11 EDL Riots 13

EDL Riots 14 EDL Riots 15 EDL Riots 16

EDL Riots 17

EDL Riots 18 EDL Riots 19 EDL Riots 6EDL Riots 20

EDL Riots 25

EDL Riots 22 
EDL Riots 23

Again, some EDL sympathisers may argue that this is only two dozen examples from a period of four years where the EDL’s social media pages have attracted up to 100,000 users. I would ask them, why do the EDL seem to attract a disproportionate amount of people who are comfortable using racist epithets and displaying open hostility to people on a purely ethnic basis?

To add a little more scientific weight to my case I will provide some telling results from polls in which EDL members and supporters were asked to answer direct questions.

demos.co.uk files Inside_the_edl_WEB.pdf 1320079341

As the table above shows, as part of the Demos ‘Inside the EDL’ study of 2011, the voting preference of 1,295 EDL supporters was measured. 34% of the participants expressed a preference for the racist BNP, which is 17 times higher than the general population, whilst 14% chose the xenophobic UKIP, which is nearly 5 times higher than the general public.

The slides below are taken from Matthew Goodwin’s ‘Men of Violence? The Drivers of Public Support for the EDL’ study which polled 1,666 members of the general public. 298 were classed as EDL sympathisers, 124 self identified as EDL members, and the remainder were considered neither.

Men of Violence  The Drivers of Public Support for the English Defe... (1)

The slide above shows that those sympathising with the EDL have a clear antipathy towards immigrants, multiculturalism and diversity.

Men of Violence  The Drivers of Public Support for the English Defe... (2)

This slide shows not only an inclination towards ethno-Nationalism but also biological racism. As the slide states, these figures point to a more openly racist inner core to the EDL with a xenophobic circle of sympathisers.

Men of Violence  The Drivers of Public Support for the English Defe...

Perhaps surprisingly, the above slide shows that the primary concern for EDL members and sympathisers is immigration and asylum, not Islam or even ‘militant’ Islam. At least a degree of proportion can be found within the rank of the EDL, as Muslims are beaten into third place by concerns over the economy. It’s not apparent whether concerns with immigration are based on fears regarding unemployment, welfare resources and the economy, or xenophobia and racism. But previous slides may provide an insight.

The next three slides illustrate the factors which are most likely to predict support for the EDL. The methodology is explained first.

Men of Violence  The Drivers of Public Support for the English Defe... (5)

Men of Violence  The Drivers of Public Support for the English Defe... (3)

As far as EDL sympathisers are concerned, by far the strongest indicator of support for the EDL is xenophobia, with an inclination to violence in second.

Men of Violence  The Drivers of Public Support for the English Defe... (4)

Not much needs to be added to the summary of the last slide. The key point worth re-iterating is that the EDL core membership is far more likely to be driven by classic racism and be pro-violence than not only the general public, but also the sympathiser. This would go some way to explaining why the more casual supporters are often oblivious to the extreme hardcore, and are confused by the accusations of racism. They may not actually spend a great deal of time socialising online or attend demos with the EDL, so are therefore less likely to have been exposed to the overt racism as the anti-EDL activist.

Is it possible to claim that the EDL is a racist organisation given the information I’ve presented here? The evidence would suggest that it attracts racists and xenophobes in numbers vastly disproportionate to the general public. It also suggests that the closer the individual identifies themselves with the EDL, the higher the probability is that they hold racist views. Add to this the fact that the leadership have a history of support for the BNP and it’s not surprising that they feel at ease doing this in EDL circles. The fact that the group’s raison d’etre is opposition to a religion practised predominantly by people of Asian, Middle Eastern and African origin provides the perfect cover for racists to be able to vent their hate with slightly amended terminology. Despite the disingenuous mission statement and lip service from the leadership, it’s undeniable that the EDL is riddled with racists and it isn’t a coincidence.

All screenshots used can be found in the link below.

http://twitpic.com/photos/EDLNewsXtra

Links to the full reports used are below.

http://www.slideshare.net/matthewgoodwin1/isdtapva2013

http://demos.co.uk/files/Inside_the_edl_WEB.pdf?1320079341

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The Importance Of Checking Your Sources or Tommy Robinson Spreads Neo-Nazi Propaganda

One thing I’ve learnt in my relatively short time blogging and involvement in social network activism, is that the sources one uses, links to or cites, must be reputable, credible and as clean as a whistle. Any debate or argument can be lost in an instant if, in your haste, you provide a source that can be debunked or discredited. I, myself, have been guilty of this in the past, so I now ensure that I know exactly who and what I use to support my case. Their credentials, qualifications and body of work. Any political, religious or personal bias. Any history of controversy or skeletons in the cupboard. Any criticism, refutations or rebuttals. Using sources without doing your homework can leave you open to embarrassment and humiliation, your honesty, morality or integrity being questioned or forever being associated with unpleasant people with unpleasant views. In the cut-throat world of political activism these lapses will be seized upon and used against you at any and every opportunity.

In my experience there are two groups of people that persistently fall into this trap. There is the group that consider themselves to be serious activists, but due to the absurd or extreme nature of their position can only support their case with sources that range from the unreliable, to the dishonest, through to the most hateful, agenda driven bile imaginable. Then there are the eager but naive novices who in their haste to counter a point, discredit an opponent or rally a cause, will unknowingly endorse a source that exposes them to the consequences highlighted in the first paragraph.

In the context of anti-Islamophobia activism there is an unfortunately fine line between what is considered acceptable and unacceptable by the anti-Islam movement in their own propaganda. For politically strategic reasons, just about any accusation or smear can be levelled at the Muslim community using the time honoured techniques and tropes of demonising and dehumanising the ‘other’. But this can be a minefield for the inexperienced or lazy bigot.

The relatively new right wing bandwagon of Islamophobia has subtle but crucial differences to traditional far-right ideology and discourse. Muslims are accused of condoning and practising sexism, homophobia and anti-Semitism as instructed by the Qu’ran and practices of the Prophet Muhammad. The problem for the uneducated Islamophobe, or the younger generation of right wing ‘patriots’ and Nationalists is that their own movement is aligned to, and integrated with many individuals and groups who have traditionally espoused the aforementioned views that they must now appear to find abhorrent.

My attention was caught by a tweet posted on the EDL hashtag by mountforrest, who regularly links to far-right websites, which contained a YouTube video entitled ‘European Race Awakens: A Golden Dawn for Sweden’ (it has now been changed as can be seen below).

Anyone with the slightest knowledge of the concept of race or a passing familiarity with the various peoples of the European continent will immediately have spotted exactly what I did. There is no single ‘European race’. They might also have picked up on the unpleasant echoes of racial theory and Nordicism in the term. With my curiosity piqued I decided to give it a viewing.

This is when I noticed the people who had chosen to retweet (Twitter speak for sharing for the uninitiated) the short film.

In the Twittersphere retweets or RT’s can be interpreted in numerous ways. If unaccompanied by any additional text, elaboration or specific denunciations of said RT, it invariably implies an endorsement of the contents. It’s common practice to stipulate in your bio as to whether a retweet is to be considered an endorsement, especially if that person is in a position of responsibility such as politician, journalist or celebrity.

As can be seen from the screenshot, as well as EDL supporter QueenLareefer and prolific internet troll, racist, homophobe, Hitler worshipper and EDL supporter WeAreTheBrits, EDL leader and British Freedom Party deputy leader Tommy Robinson aka Stephen Yaxley Lennon has also retweeted this video.

The contents of this particular video was footage of what appeared to be two or three groups of Swedish nationalists parading with flags, chasing and attacking what seem to be counter demonstrators. It’s unclear whether these opposition groups are Antifascists, immigrant communities or both.

Despite being familiar with the numerous ‘counterjihad’ groups, various Defence Leagues and far right political parties across Europe, I realised that I didn’t recognise any of the flags or symbols being flown. They didn’t belong to the neo-fascist Swedish Democrats party, the Swedish Defence League, SIOE or any other group involved in anti-Muslim activism. I decided to do some digging to see if my instincts concerning the racist undercurrent of the theme were right. It took a while but this is what I found.

The two flags on display here belong to the Swedish Resistance Movement.

The video footage is poorly lit so here’s a photograph from their ‘Stop the Boer Genocide’ march.

The SMR is a militant Neo-Nazi organisation, who’s leader Klas Lund was a member of the White Aryan Resistance and has served time for manslaughter. The aims of Swedish Resistance Movement is to establish a Nordic government by revolution. The organization says their fight will require bloodshed.

Persons linked to the Swedish Resistance Movement have been involved in several acts of violence:

  • Armed robbery, Sollentuna 1997
  • Theft of weapons from the army in Strängnäs, September 1998
  • Assault and battery of persons of African descent, Stockholm April 1999
  • Assault and battery of homosexuals during Gay Pride in Stockholm, July 1999
  • Assault and battery of ethnic Swedes at Gröna Lund, Stockholm 1999
  • The murder of Björn Söderberg, Stockholm 1999
  • Manslaughter in Skogås new year -2000, Stockholm 1999
  • Three far left activists from the Socialist Justice Party and one conservative youth from the Moderate Youth League were seriously assaulted in Gothenburg 2008

The Swedish Security Service believes the SMR to be the biggest threat to Sweden’s national security.

The flag in the video still above is that of the Party of the Swedes.

They are a nationalist political party which was founded as the Peoples Front by members of the now defunct National Socialist Front.

The party describes its ideology as nationalism based on a biological ground. The political program states that:

1, Sweden should also in the future be Swedish: Only people who belong to the western genetic and cultural heritage, where the ethnic Swedes are included, should be Swedish citizens.

The flag being paraded by the marchers above is that of the aforementioned National Socialist Front.

It became a political party on 20 April 1999, the 110th birthday of Adolf Hitler. Whilst active the NSF demonstrated in Stockholm for the release of Holocaust denier Ernst ZündelThe party had as its main goals the abolition of democracy, the repatriation of immigrants, the implementation of scientific racism and cutting taxes for families with many genetically healthy children.

The flags in the above photo represent the Autonomous Nationalists &Workers Partiesfrom Germany, Poland, Czech Republic and Sweden.

Both groups are major players in Central European far-right extremism.

A high level of militancy is connected with the activities of autonomous nationalists (Menhorn 2008). The AN are a strategic concept, organization and subculture – all three terms are possible for the designation of this phenomenon.”

“The violent actions of right-wing extremist are traditionally propagated at international level. The cult of the American right-wing terrorist group The Order or the Anti-Antifa concept of German origin are examples. In East Central Europe is right-wing extremist violence very strong (Mudde 2005: 275). Various violent activities from other countries have inspired foreign activists in contemporary East and Central Europe, and even transnational participation in them can be seen.  Specific brutal forms of violence, mostly against people from Caucasus and Central Asia and against anti-Fascists, is typical of contemporary Russia, including video shots of executions or activities of racist gangs causing tens of victims. The “Russian Way” is a new popular term in the right-wing scene for the designation of violent struggle with terrorist means. The training by the Russian military veterans of post-Soviet conflicts is also propagated in several East Central European countries (of course not among the nationalists with strong anti-Russian
prejudices, as in Ukraine).”

A popular concept is also vigilantism by paramilitary groups, which is inspired by the Hungarian guard (MG). The main aim of the MG and similar groups in other countries (National Guard – NG and Protection corps of the Worker´s Party – OS DS) is not the direct use of violence (they are unarmed formations), but the public demonstration of force. The real goal is intimidating ethnic minorities (mostly Roma people), who are connected with crime in public discourse (it is influenced by racist prejudices strongly).

A new form of violent activity – mass riot in the problem localities – was presented in the Czech town Litvínov in quarter Janov in Autumn 2008. More than thousand activists (mostly autonomous nationalists and right-wing extremist football hooligans) attacked the police and tried to attack the Roma settlement (Albert 2009). Participants of this riot were not only Czechs, but also Slovaks and Germans. One year later the north Bohemian NS-activists supported the raid of the Slovak community in the Roma settlement in Šarišské Michalany in Slovakia (Nejvyšší správní soud 2010: 6).”

I was now curious to know who was responsible for uploading Nazi propaganda onto YouTube.

Clicking on the appropriately named fasciststateUK’s channel reveals a wallpaper adorned with an immediately recognisable moustachioed man.

A browse through the channel uncovers gems such as these:

As well as fawning tributes to Adolf Hitler, Rudolf Hess and Heinrich Himmler, there is Holocaust denial and revisionism, praise for the BNP and the National Front and videos laughably referring to ‘My Tram Experience’ racist Emma West as the ‘Mother of England’ and ‘England’s Joan of Arc.’ There are also similar videos to the Swedish example posted on twitter charting and celebrating the perceived rise of National Socialism in Greece, Ukraine, Croatia, Romania, Germany, Poland and France.

The channel also hosts seven broadcasts of the a ‘White Network’ radio show hosted by a woman by the name of Carolyn Yeager. The Anti Defamation League gives us the low-down on her.

Carolyn Yeager is a Texas-based neo-Nazi and Holocaust denier who runs her own Web site. The site is filled with racist and anti-Semitic material, as well as essays promoting motherhood and home-schooling.

From April through August 2007, Yeager was the Texas state leader of neo-Nazi American National Socialist Workers Party (ANSWP), a group that descended from the National Socialist Movement, the largest neo-Nazi group in the country. She also assumed the position of Assistant Editor at the ANSWP’s magazine, National Socialist, in July 2007.  In a 2007 profile inNational Socialist, she is quoted as praising Hitler, advocating the supremacy of the Aryan “race,” and claiming that the Jews’ “long-term plan is to drive us off the land and alienate us from our roots so that we will not fight.”  In August 2007, Yeager defected from the ANSWP, which has been inactive since its leader Bill White was imprisoned on charges of threatening and intimidating various perceived enemies.

By 2009, Yeager was writing for The Barnes Review, a Holocaust denial publication published by long-time anti-Semite Willis Carto. In the May/June 2009 issue of the magazine, Yeager co-authored an article, “Who Are the Traitors? Frank Talks Inside the Fuehrer’s Headquarters Revealed by Hitler Confidant Hermann Giesler.” She also authored the book “Auschwitz: The Underground Guided Tour; What the Tour Guides Don’t Tell You at Auschwitz-Birkenau, published by The Barnes Review.  In the book, Yeager claims that Auschwitz was not an extermination camp and that Nazi guards looked after the health of inmates.  Reputable scholars estimate that 1.1 million people, 90% of them Jewish, died at Auschwitz.

To summarise, Tommy Robinson, the leader of the English Defence League and deputy leader of the British Freedom Party, retweeted a video of Swedish Neo-Nazi groups attacking opposition activists. These groups variously promote white nationalism, eugenics, repatriation and violent revolution. Have carried out violent attacks on minority groups, attend paramilitary training camps and openly espouse anti-Semitic, anti-immigrant, racist, anti-democratic views. The video itself was uploaded to a channel devoted to the promotion of Nazism, Holocaust revisionism, white power, anti-Semitic conspiracy theories and glorifying Hitler.

This wouldn’t be the first time he has used questionable sources either. In an attempt to discredit extremism expert and esteemed academic Matthew Goodwin, he ‘inadvertently’ used an entry from the Metapedia website. Metapedia is pro white supremacist, homophobic, anti-Semitic, and glowingly praises Adolf Hitler and Nazi Germany. In his haste to smear Dr. Goodwin, Mr. Robinson quoted Metapedia live on BBC television and posted a link to them on twitter.

Since opening his twitter account, the EDL leader has committed faux pas after faux pas.

Inappropriate comments to underage girls.

Hilarious ‘jokes’.

Let’s just remind ourselves that this person is the deputy leader of the British Freedom Party, who claim to be central in orientation and harbour ambitions of electoral success.

All this information compels an anti-bigotry activist to make a decision on what to deduce and how to use it. It would be easy to use this to smear and discredit both the person, the organisation and the political party he represents. If I was a ruthless cynic, I could manipulate the situation to make it appear that the person involved was openly endorsing, encouraging and celebrating the rise of National Socialism in Europe. Indeed, some people reading this may feel the urge to use this blog post for that very purpose.

Should we give Tommy Robinson the benefit of the doubt and attribute this to being impulsive, politically naive and, well, not very bright? Or do we decide not to patronise him? After all, he has been appointed the deputy head of a legitimate political party. A person in such a position would surely be aware of the consequences of disseminating potentially controversial material. They would no doubt have received media coaching or have been briefed on the dangers of bringing the party into disrepute. Should we therefore assume that the BFP are happy for their deputy leader to spread neo-Nazi propaganda? Or would they consider him to be a liability? A tactless bigot ill equipped for the political arena? Has he been careless in navigating the far-right minefield where the divisions are so blurred, or are the true colours of the former BNP member finally being revealed?

Confronted with a similar situation with the roles reversed, how would Tommy Robinson react? Would he behave with integrity and exercise caution, or smell blood and go for the jugular? Given his attempted smearing of Matthew Goodwin on national television to name but one incident, I think it’s obvious what the answer is. The moral dilemma is whether to afford Robinson the same courtesy. Being seen to openly endorse violent neo-Nazi groups could be extremely damaging to a fledgeling political career and the already dubious reputation of the leader of a supposedly peaceful, non-racist protest group. That would be a terrible shame.

6 Degrees of Anders Breivik

Occasionally I like to indulge my immature side and post something a bit more light hearted than usual, but as ever, there’s always a message.

1. Anders Breivik

Far right extremist, anti-Muslim terrorist, perpetrator of 77 murders in Oslo & Utoya. EDL supporter.

2. Daryl Hobson

EDL organiser & logo designer, Facebook friend of Breivik & recipient of his infamous manifesto.

3. Stephen Lennon

EDL leader & founder, despite denying knowledge of Hobson they have been photographed together.

Daryl Hobson & Tommy Robinson/Stephen Lennon

4. Robert Spencer

Robert Spencer

Namechecked 64 times in Breivik’s manifesto, eminent Islamophobe, co-founder of SIOA and EDL endorser.

5. Douglas Murray

Douglas Murray

Heads conservative think tank Centre for Social Cohesion, has liaised with Spencer on ‘counter terrorism’ issues, EDL sympathiser, influential in formulating David Cameron’s Prevent strategy addressing Islamic extremism.

6. David Cameron

Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, denouncer of multiculturalism, Muslim scapegoater.

Despite this being a slightly mischievous post, it’s not entirely frivolous. The issue that has caused these people’s paths to cross socially or professionally is Islam. The thought that the work of Robert Spencer could influence both the acts of a terrorist and government policy on dealing with the Muslim community is worrying to say the least, and is yet another reason to put these hatemongers under the microscope and blow their industry wide open.

Just Saying

Whilst reading for the purpose of a future blog I came across something that struck a cord. Fascism is a word that gets bandied about by both sides of the political divide without much thought with regards to its accuracy or suitability. It more often than not is used as an insult, normally when somebody’s opinions or actions meet resistance. I stumbled upon a set of criteria offered by Robert Paxton, a political scientist and historian specialising in fascism. It’s comprehensive yet simple, and point by point the parallels with a notorious ‘human rights organisation’ dear to us all became clearer to see.

From Professor Robert Paxton’s 2004 book, `The Anatomy of Fascism.’

1. a sense of overwhelming crisis beyond reach of traditional solutions;

2. belief one’s group is the victim, justifying any action without legal or moral limits;

3. need for authority by a natural leader above the law, relying on the superiority of his instincts;

4. right of the chosen people to dominate others without legal or moral restraint;

5. fear of foreign `contamination.’

Applied to my observations on the EDL:

1. The EDL see the Islamification of the UK as inevitable and the perception that they are the only ones who can see this happening fuels a desperate paranoia. This manifests itself occasionally through violence and vandalism, and an increasingly violent rhetoric.

2. There is an overwhelming feeling within the EDL that white, working class Britons are being treated as second class citizens while Muslims and immigrants receive beneficial treatment from the government and liberal elite. They also feel that the EDL suffer from harsh treatment from the authorities and bad press because of this.

3. Tommy Robinson has earned an almost cult like adoration from EDL members who see him as a freedom fighter willing to sacrifice his family’s security and safety, and his own liberty for the ’cause’. They believe he is the victim of continued persecution from the authorities despite constant law breaking, and subsequent breaching of various conditions placed on him.

4. The EDL are a nationalistic, nativist organisation. They claim to accept anyone on the condition that they assimilate and don’t impose alien cultures or values on their adopted home. They believe, as the ‘indigenous’ population, that they are naturally deserving and entitled, as evinced by their favoured chants ‘who’s streets, our streets’ and ‘we want our country back’.

5. The EDL see Islam as a threat being spread through creeping sharia and stealth jihad. They constantly refer to Islam as a cancer, plague, disease or poison and Muslims as vermin.

Paxton states:

Fascism demands a succession of wars, foreign conquests, and national threats to keep the nation in a state of fear, anxiety and patriotic hypertension. Those who disagree are branded ideological traitors. All successful fascists regimes, allied themselves to traditional conservative parties, and to the military-industrial complex.

The EDL have an obsession with military imagery and terminology. They display an undignified sycophancy towards ‘our boys’, and an unhealthy need to mourn our ‘fallen heroes’ at any opportunity, hijacking processions and funerals and adopting numerous military charities. Anyone who doesn’t share their fervent pride in the armed forces is labelled as anti-British.

Off the top of my head we can add the suppression and censorship of internal dissent on social networking sites, the targeting of left wing groups and events (the Newcastle UAF meeting and recent anti-racism gig in Leeds) and the dissemination of dehumanising propaganda to the list. All classic tactics of fascist organisations.

Just saying.

EDL: Educating Dhimmi Liberals


Apparently the EDL are trying to educate us. As well as claiming to be a street army defending our nations values, culture, children and women and a human rights organisation, they are also providing an educational function. They want to teach us about the dangers of Islam. That’s right, this largely white, Anglo-Saxon, culturally Christian organisation wants to educate us about the evil message of the Qur’an. Forget that Muslim scholars, clerics and intellectuals have been studying and interpreting the holy book for over a thousand years and are still debating and disagreeing. Forget that varying schools of thought have been developed over the centuries not only into Sunni and Shi’a Islam but into Ahmadiyya and Kharijite, and further branched into Hanbali, Maliki, Shafi’i and Hanafi, Twelver, Ismaili, Zaidiyyah, Alawi & Alevi. There was the development of Sufism and its numerous branches. Then, of course there are the ultra conservative Salafi or Wahabis. The list goes on. Forget all of that, the football hooligans, binge drinkers, book burners and the ‘not racist’ BNP voters of the EDL are here to put the record straight about this most diverse and multi-dimensional faith.

Of course, not all EDL soldiers and human rights activists have the time to study the Qur’an they’ve stolen before they perform the tradition burning ceremony. What with having to fit neighbourhood watch duties, humanitarian work and actual teaching around their day jobs (no laughing). Luckily though, there is a vast array of altruistic scholars that have kindly done the reading for them, and have published their findings in books and online. Those kind folks in Israel that translate the Qur’an for Guramit Singh, for instance. Robert Spencer, Pamela Geller, Daniel Pipes, David Horowitz, Geert Wilders etc. These people have all produced literature, made films, formed political parties and created organisations to educate us and protect us from Muslims. The fact that they are all unashamed Zionists is neither here nor there.

I started to wonder though, am I being a bit too hasty in dismissing the EDL’s capacity to educate those of us who don’t yet hate Muslims and fear the inevitable Islamic takeover? Have I learnt anything from the EDL? Surprisingly, the answer was yes.

The EDL has taught me that the direction of one’s political leaning has a direct correlation with one’s body odour & washing frequency.

The EDL has taught me that Xenophobia is a country.

The EDL has taught me that Brazil is a Muslim country.

The EDL has brought the existence of halal pork to my attention.

The EDL has uncovered Iraqi, interracial and Muslamic law in London.

The EDL has taught me of the existence of Muslim Infidels.

The EDL has taught me that you can’t build Mosques in Mecca.

The EDL has taught me that the New Testament is an updated version of the Old Testament.

The EDL has taught me the true meaning of irony.

Wearing a balaclava while demanding a ban on the burka is NOT ironic.

An ‘ex’ BNP member running a business that turns pale people brown is NOT ironic.

The son of immigrants being the leader of xenophobic organisation is NOT ironic.

The EDL moralising about the reported age of Aisha despite one of their leaders being a convicted paedophile is NOT ironic.

I consider myself a better person for opening my mind to the wisdom of the English Defence League.

Response to lancastrian_EDL

This is a response to a response to an earlier blog post of mine.

Firstly I have to say I’m amazed that someone who’s clearly an intellectual cut above the usual </aEDL thug is attempting to make a case for said organisation being a human rights group. Either you are being monumentally naive or extremely dishonest. Secondly I’ll address the charge that I imply “we can ignore Islamic human rights violations” and I “would prefer them to be quietly swept under the carpet”. This is a typical right-wing response to what is simply pointing out the hypocrisy and double standards, of a group highlighting the wrongdoings of a certain section of society, whilst the same crimes are being committed within their own. I’m not the one demonising an entire community of people here, if it wasn’t for the EDL and their ilk being hellbent on creating a fear of a non-existent threat, there would be no need for people like me to redress the balance.

Next, and this is a good one, is the feeble attempt to absolve the EDL of any semblance of guilt by association or incitement. The claim that “the EDL doesn’t have any members, it only has supporters” will come as a huge surprise to the thousands of people who believe they are members of a movement, not just supporters of an abstract concept or political ideology. Unless you are part of the leadership you have no authority to make such a claim. And what of the leadership? Are the people who actually founded and lead the EDL members or merely supporters of an intangible set of ideals (sharia?)? What if we just use them as a measure of how credible the claims to be a human rights organisation are?

Courtesy of Exposing Racism and Intolerance online & Hope not Hate.

The leader and founder Steven Yaxley Lennon

In 2004 he joined the BNP with a family membership. In the same year he assaulted an off-duty police officer who intervened to stop a domestic incident between Yaxley-Lennon and his partner Jenna Vowles. During the scuffle Yaxley-Lennon kicked the officer in the head.

http://www.hopenothate.org.uk/The-BNP-past-of-EDL-leader

He was convicted on 18 April 2005 for assault occasioning actual bodily harm, for which he was sentenced to 12 months’ imprisonment, and assault with intent to resist arrest, for which he received a concurrent term of three months.

Vowles, also a BNP member, was cautioned for possession of cocaine. She told the court that the she found two empty bags in her house and was taking them out so that her parents did not find them.

Kevin Carroll

Kevin Carroll is considered to be one of the founding fathers of the EDL. In July he lost his appeal against his conviction for shouting abuse at Islamic protesters at the Luton homecoming parade for the Royal Anglian Regiment. It was the events in Luton in March 2009 that prompted the EDL’s formation.

He insists he is not racist, yet he revealed in a BBC documentary, Young, British and Angry, that he had signed the nomination papers in the 2007 Luton council elections for Robert Sherratt, a BNP candidate and activist in the tiny nazi November 9th Society. Carroll apparently was very keen to stand as a BNP candidate himself but was prevented by his partner’s intervention.

Guramit Singh

You know what, ive got an inkling the profit muhammed was really a bit of a adultering, raping, hate preaching looting Cunt!! Anyone agree, or is it just me????

The muzzies wanna keep away from me im just looking for an excuse im fucked off at the mo fuck the pakis … i just think we shud burn the cunts now!!

[Comment aimed at a Muslim who insulted the EDL] hey amir how many times have u fucked your sister today, ure all a bunch of pedos, piss off back to pakistan!!

“God bless the Christians, Jews, Sikhs, even God bless the Muslims — they’ll need it when they’re burning in fucking hell.”

http://barthsnotes.wordpress.com/2010/12/22/guramit-singh-in-anti-muslim-tirade/

http://www.thesamosa.co.uk/index.php/news-and-features/society/218-dear-edl-is-this-how-you-want-muslims-to-observe-british-law.html

http://www.newstatesman.com/blogs/the-staggers/2010/03/defence-league-parliament

Jeff Marsh

Has served three jail terms for violence, including a two-year sentence in 1989 for stabbing two Manchester United fans.

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1338080/Special-Investigation-English-Defence-League-hooligans-spreading-hate-High-Street.html

Joel Titus – EDL Youth Division Leader

A prominent member of the English Defence League admitted his part in a mass brawl between Brentford and Leyton Orient fans in London. Joel Titus, was among rival supporters who clashed in a a pre-arranged meeting on the final day of last season, on May 8, at Liverpool Street station.”

http://www.24dash.com/news/communities/2011-04-19-English-Defence-League-youth-facing-jail-over-mass-brawl

Joel Titus gets ASBO preventing him from attending EDL protests for the next three years.
http://content.met.police.uk/News/Man-banned-from-attending-EDL-protests/1260268914243/1257246745756

Richard Price

A leader of the English Defence League who was described as a “political prisoner” after being jailed for violence at a march had already been placed on the sex offenders register for downloading indecent images of children.

Price, 41, had been convicted in June 2010 of making four indecent images of children, and possessing cocaine and crack cocaine.

An earlier arrest in 2009 for public order offences believed to have been connected with EDL marches.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-12024824
http://www.thamesvalley.police.uk/newsevents/newsevents-pressreleases/newsevents-pressreleases-item.htm?id=160275
http://news.uk.msn.com/forum/thread.aspx?board=00000071-0328-0000-0000-000000000000&thread=9edd7c2e-3ef1-4d75-bfa4-d98cae6db122

Roberta Moore

Roberta Moore, notorious Kahanist , Islamophobe and close ally of Zionist Federation Co Vice-Chair Jonathan Hoffman, announced that her three-member strong “Jewish Division” is now closely working with American far-right group, the Jewish Task Force (JTF), whose leader Victor Vancier served a five-year prison sentence for bomb attacks against Soviet targets in America in response for the USSR’s alleged mistreatment of Soviet Jews.

http://londonbds.org/2011/03/06/ahava-another-goal-for-bds/

http://www.thejc.com/news/uk-news/45704/edl-dismisses-jewish-arm-too-extreme-0

Show me another human rights organisation with a leadership structure with these types of characters. If these are the most senior and influential members of the EDL how does that fit into the ethos of a human right group?

Here’s another beauty.

“As the mission statement  makes clear, the changes required need to come largely from within  the Islamic community.”

Not once, on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, television or radio interviews, from ‘supporters’ and leaders alike have I ever seen or heard the suggestion that the solution must come from within the Muslim community. In fact I have yet to see any constructive advice at all. I have seen chants of “Burn a poppy, we’ll burn a mosque”, “We all hate Muslims”, “Who the fuck is Allah”, “Allah is a paedo”, “Muslim paedos off our street”, “We want our country back”, “You’re not English any more” etc. Divisive and offensive slogans sang by hundreds of ‘supporters’ at every demo without the intervention of other ‘supporters’ or stewards.

This one is a peach.

“Suggestions that as an entity, EDL should  present recommendations would only be construed as imposing things.”

The EDL don’t want to be seen as imposing things on the Muslim community? How very British. Let’s just take that in for a moment. The EDL, out of meekness or diplomacy don’t want to impose, but feel it’s their place to call for a ban on the burka? They don’t want to be construed as treading on anyone’s toes, but will protest halal food outside KFC for a whole week? Their leader is happy to call for the halt of mosque building and Muslim immigration, but doesn’t want to impose? Why organise demos in Luton, Bradford or Oldham where there are large Muslim communities, at huge expense to the taxpayer and against the wishes of the locals if you don’t want to impose? As I said your either being naive or dishonest.

“The mention of origins of majority of Muslims shows that once again racism is being used (wrongly again) as a charge to try and stifle any debate.”

*Sigh* This tired old right-wing cliché again. This one is wheeled out every time the truth becomes a little too uncomfortable. The irony is that it’s this statement that usually leads to the end of the debate, not the accusation of racism. It never seems to be followed by any convincing argument for why they couldn’t possibly be racist. Is it a just wild coincidence that a group formed and lead by BNP members, convicted hooligans and terrorist sympathisers attracts other violent racists as supporters.

“As for  the ‘type of people’ the EDL attracts, some people are less  articulate than others (that is more a reflection on the British school system over the past decades) on the subject of Islam but they  have a right to their opinion and it is still valid.”

This is a weak and disingenuous argument. Don’t try to pass off the failure of people to express their objections to a ‘barbaric, totalitarian, political doctrine’ as a lack of education. Have a browse of the 1,300 screen captures compiled here if you honestly think it is to do with anything other than racism. Before you use the Muslims aren’t a race card, read my thoughts on that first.

I’m not sure how you’re defining the ‘Muslim problem’, but here is my take. This is what I had to say about Cameron’s multiculturalism speech. Some thoughts on collective guilt here. You have already read my piece on sharia.

Another question for you to consider. If the EDL genuinely advocate human rights, how do they explain throwing their support behind Israeli and Zionist organisations? Israel has perpetrated more violations of international law than every other nation combined, and consistently ignore UN rulings. The EDL would be the only human rights organisation on the planet that not only don’t condemn Israeli expansion but actively support it.

“Also, some of the sources quoted by you are hardly what one might  describe as impartial. Most have fairly extreme agendas of their own  and that has certainly influenced the presentation.”

This one is going to be fun. The sources I have quoted are either concerned with news or opposing bigotry. Any agenda they have is either in reporting fact or exposing racial hatred. If you think that’s extreme, that says more about you than it does about them. If the details were libelous action would have been taken. As you say, the presentation may be influenced, but you don’t challenge the veracity of the contents. Speaking of impartial sources with extreme agendas, I notice that you provide a link to Jihadwatch in your twitter profile. You may not see the irony here so I’ll do my best to make it obvious. Let’s start with Robert Spencer himself, the anti-Muslim ideologue who runs the site. Here’s what some renowned scholars and experts have to say about him.

“Spencer’s readers are carefully steered away from all contact with the Islamic interpretative tradition, which equals or exceeds that of any other religion, because any scholarly knowledge about Islam would expose all his extremist interpretations to ridicule.”

– Robert Crane, (Ex-Nixon Aide, author)

______________________

“[Robert Spencer] has no academic training in Islamic studies whatsoever; his M.A. degree was in the field of early Christianity”

“The publications of Spencer belong to the class of Islamophobic extremism that is promoted and supported by right-wing organizations, who are perpetuating a type of bigotry similar to anti-Semitism and racial prejudice. They are to be viewed with great suspicion by anyone who wishes to find reliable and scholarly information on the subject of Islam.”

– Carl Ernst (Islamic Scholar UNC)

______________________

“[Robert Spencer] uses the Internet to spread misinformation and hatred of Islam and presents a ‘skewed, one-sided, and inflammatory story that only helps to sow the seed of civilizational conflict’.”

– Benazir Bhutto (Late Prime Minister of Pakistan)

______________________

“When it comes to Robert Spencer scholars of Islamic studies outright dismiss him and his body of work. They call him an unreliable ideologue at best and a divisive bigot at worst.”

– Michael Kruse (Writer St. Petersburg Times)

______________________

“After looking at your website, I was quite surprised to see how much hate, venom and misunderstanding you are fostering.”

– M. Cherif Bassiouni (Law Professor, Scholar, Humanitarian)

______________________

“Robert Spencer is an extremist, right-wing anti-Muslim rabble rouser.”

– Robert Dreyfuss (Nation Magazine Editor, Contributor to Rolling Stone and Mother Jones)

______________________

“Mr. Spencer espouses a view of Islam as a system of belief which is essentially violent, undemocratic, totalitarian, exclusive and at war with all non-Muslims. Mr. Spencer in fact goes as far as to equate Islam with fascism.”

– Group of ALA Librarians, scholars and academics

______________________

“There is no doubt The Little King [Robert Spencer] ‘plagiarized,’ and therefore is a ‘plagiarist’.”

– Andrew Bostom (Close friend, ally and blog collaborator)

______________________

“Robert Spencer is an anti-Muslim blogger…And yes, I do mean ‘anti-Muslim’ — Spencer long ago crossed the line from simply criticizing radical Islamists to relentlessly demonizing all Muslims. And the bigoted, hateful comments he allows at his website are beyond disgusting.”

– Charles Johnson (Former Ally, Friend and Blog Collaborator)

______________________

“Spencer’s historical argument is dubious. It emphasizes violent passages in the Koran, while downplaying the passages that urge peace and goodwill. It applies a moral standard to Islamic empires that certainly could not be met by the Roman empire or the empires established by the Portuguese, the Spanish, the French and the British. In the Spain of Ferdinand and Isabella, for example, Jews had three choices: convert to Christianity, leave the country, or be killed. No Muslim empire legislated or systematically enforced such a policy toward its religious minorities.”

“Spencer glibly jumps over entire centuries in linking, say, the savagery of the Ottomans in Constantinople with the savagery of Hezbollah in Lebanon or the Taliban in Afghanistan.”

– Dinesh D’Souza (Conservative scholar, pundit and author)

______________________

“According to Mr. Spencer, Judeo-Christianity is fundamentally and qualitatively superior to Islam, so to suggest that there could be a degenerative least-common-denominator into which all three religions could converge under any conditions, reeks of cultural relativism, because it denies Judeo-Christianity’s irreducible superiority.”

“I find it curious that Robert Spencer closes both eyes to atrocities perpetrated by Serbs, because if it had only been Muslims on their receiving end, I would understand now (but of coursenot justify it) seeing where Spencer is coming from, but Serbs have also fought against Croats and Slovenes —their fellow Christians. Yet he takes the side of the most historically aggressive representatives of his own ‘Religion of Peace.’ Could it be that while ostensibly and quite irrationally denying any violence within Christianity, he in fact secretly and perhaps subconsciously admiresviolent Christianity?”

– Kejda Gjermani (Commentary Magazine author)

______________________

“Robert Spencer, a prolific anti-Islam writer and a leading Islamophobe who is bent on distorting Islam and demonizing Muslims, has persistently argued that violence and terrorism employed by Muslim extremists is rooted in the Quran and its message. Spencer calls the Quran, a book sacred to Muslim, ‘the jihadists’ Mein Kampf,’ in reference to Hitler’s memoir.”

– Louay M. Safi (Islamic Scholar)

______________________

“The widespread ignorance about Islam in the West makes many vulnerable to Spencer’s polemic; he is telling them what they are predisposed to hear. His book is a gift to extremists who can use it to ‘prove’ to those Muslims who have been alienated by events in Palestine, Lebanon and Iraq that the west is incurably hostile to their faith.”

– Karen Armstrong (Author)

______________________

“Spencer thinks, ‘Islamist fundamentalist drive European politics’.”

“Spencer and Bat Ye’or “lack academic seriousness.”

– Ivan Jablonka (Scholar)

______________________

“Words like Islamophobia and phrases like anti-Muslim bigotryare bandied about too liberally…But the real thing does exist, and it frequently takes the cover of anti-jihadism. Jihad Watch…traffics fairly openly in such stuff.”

– Cathy Young (Writer with Reason Magazine)

Hasn’t started well has it? What about the content of the site.

Well there was that time when a series of bomb attacks hit India in 2007 & 2008. Without hesitation or a shred of evidence, Spencer claimed it was the work of a Bangladeshi jihadist group. Lo and behold, it then transpires that the attacks were carried out by a Hindu group, with no retraction or correction on Jihadwatch.

Then there was the case of the Muslim terrorist on a Maltese flight last year, who was praying in the aisle with a suspect package. Except it turns out he was a Christian. A West Indian, dreadlocked Christian with a funny accent, but a Christian all the same. This particular story was deleted from Jihadwatch.

What about the infamous Gaza mass child bride extravaganza? Who could forget that? A field day for Islamophobes and Zionists. A photograph emerged in which numerous grooms were accompanied by primary school age girls dressed as brides. You can imagine the headlines. Yet again, this myth was busted by someone who was actually present. The young girls were the cousins and nieces of the grooms. But hey, they’re Muslims, you wouldn’t put it past them would you?

There’s the fact that Spencer uses a bogus translator to manipulate Arabic texts to suit his agenda. In one instance he reported a Fatwa giving Muslims permission to have sex with pre-pubescent girls, when in fact the true translation showed that the Fatwa was intended to do the exact opposite. The full read is absolutely ‘you couldn’t make it up’, facepalm material.

There was the time Spencer was revealed to be the owner of ‘hate URLs’ fuckislam.com and fuckallah.com only to delete them when exposed. Impartial source?

Don’t forget the time he accidentally joined a genocidal Facebook group. That could have looked really bad.

There are volumes upon volumes of work, comprehensively debunking Spencer’s dishonesty. Here is a start.

Robert Spencer and the disappearing articles

Robert Spencer’s “Scholarly” Credentials

On Spencer’s Credentials and Methodology

Understanding Jihad – Answers to Spencer’s The Politically Incorrect Guide to Islam (and the Crusades)

“Fascist-Islamophobia”: A Case Study in Totalitarian Demonization – Five part series debunking Spencer’s written work.

The Politically Incorrect Guide to Robert Spencer – A huge resource of responses and rebuttals of Spencer’s statements.

It seems to me that you are either oblivious to the reality of what the EDL is or just trying to pull the wool over my eyes. It won’t work. If you truly believe that the EDL mission statement is sincere, and a representation of what they stand for maybe I have overestimated your intelligence. I wonder if you can even see the irony of an EDL member using a piece of text as the true representation of what they believe in when an extreme element of their membership is found to be violent and bigoted, and the whole organisation comes under fire? Does it sound familiar?

Some areas of Islam may indeed be in need of reform, and the will to do so must come from within the community. But if the EDL mission statement is the true reflection of its values, intentions and actions, I argue that they are in need of larger reforms, from top to bottom. Either that or you need to admit that it’s just an exercise in disingenuous public relations, get off the bandwagon, and start your own peaceful human rights organisation. All the EDL has succeeded in doing is driving a wedge between themselves and the Muslim community, and creating further hostility. If Islam is going to reform some of its aspects, young, Westernised Muslims will be at the forefront. The EDL is only alienating them at present, and fostering a climate of suspicion, resentment and hate.

Why the EDL isn’t a Human Rights Organisation

“The English Defence League (EDL) is a human rights organisation”

The fact that the EDL don’t have a membership scheme makes it easy for them to disassociate themselves from disgraced members, but also equally problematic to actually prove they aren’t members. If you count every ‘like’ on your Facebook page as a member to exaggerate your numbers, you have to accept responsibility for the paedophiles, arsonists, murderers and racists when they are exposed. In Facebook world, if you have EDL, any variation of regional infidel groups or the Nse motto in your name, have a friend list full of EDL members, or are a member of the EDL and other far right FB groups, you can justifiably be considered as representing the EDL. I concede that large groups of people will always consist of individuals with varying opinions, but the EDL are a single issue group, that issue being ‘militant Islam’. They are a group formed by violent football hooligans with links to far right organisations who have singled out a minority group which just happens to include Pakistanis, Bangladeshis, Arabs and Africans. It doesn’t take a genius to predict the type of follower they would attract.

When the EDL mission statement was published it was naturally greeted by sniggers, guffaws and pant wetting belly laughs. As laughable as the claim to be a Human Right organisation is, let’s humour them and examine the evidence.

To be able to declare yourselves a human rights organisation you need to demonstrate that you support and adhere to the Human Rights Act 1998, all of it. The articles of the act protect:

  1. the right to life,
  2. the prohibition of torture,
  3. the prohibition of slavery and forced labour,
  4. the right to liberty and security,
  5. the right to a fair trial,
  6. no punishment without law,
  7. the right to respect for private and family life,
  8. freedom of thought, conscience and religion,
  9. freedom of expression,
  10. freedom of assembly and association,
  11. the right to marry,
  12. the prohibition of discrimination,
  13. restrictions on political activity of aliens,
  14. prohibition of abuse of rights,
  15. the limitation on use of restrictions on rights,
  16. the protection of property,
  17. the right to education,
  18. the right to free elections,
  19. the abolition of the death penalty.

These articles also correspond with the European Convention on Human Rights.

According to international law, human rights organisation should display the four following characteristics:

1. is ‘non-governmental’ meaning that it is established by private initiative, is free from governmental influence, and does not perform public functions.

2. has an aim that is not-for-profit, meaning that if any profits are earned by the organisation they are not distributed to its members but used in the pursuit of its objective

3. does not use or promote violence or have clear connections with criminality

4. has a formal existence with a statute and a democratic and representative structure, and does normally, but not necessarily, enjoy legal personality under national law.

2 & 3 might me stumbling blocks for the EDL.

Official human rights groups include Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, the Red Cross, International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission (IGLHRC), the International Peace Commission, Liberty, Women’s Learning Partnership (WLP), International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH).

Does the English Defence League sincerely believe it deserves to be considered in the same genre as these organisations? Rachel Brett of The Political Studies Association wrote in her report The Role and Limits of Human Rights NGOs at the United Nations:

‘What distinguishes a human rights group from other political elements of any given society is that while political advocates usually seeking to protect only the rights of their own constituents, a human rights group seeks to defend the same rights for all members of that or any other society.’

Although they use the persecution and discrimination of minorities in Islamic countries as a reason to protest against what they see as the Islamification of Britain, there is precious little evidence that the EDL actively support the minorities in question. It is little more than opportunistic scaremongering, designed to dehumanise and demonise Muslims, and legitimise their grievances. The EDL are quite vociferous in their explanation of what exactly they are defending. It generally runs along the lines of the British way of life, British values, British culture, and the future of British children. They are defending these from ‘militant Islam’, its advocates and adherents. I have yet to see EDL members campaigning for justice and equality for women in Saudi Arabia, for gay men in Iran, for Palestinians in the West Bank or for rape victims in Pakistan. They are quite happy to advertise these injustices, often accompanied by graphic videos or pictures, but only with the pretext of highlighting Islamic barbarism. How does this demonstrate the desire to ‘defend the same rights for all members of that or any other society.’? Quite simply it doesn’t. But there’s no need for a critical analysis of contradictory philosophies. Allow me to list just a small selection of reasons why the EDL is not a human rights organisation.

A human rights group would not seek to ban Halal food.

A human rights group would not attack women protesting a ban on the burka.

A human rights group would not call for the burning of a place of worship, let alone attempt it.

A human rights group would not leave a severed pigs head at a place of worship.

Members of a human rights group would not beat an autistic boy to death.

Members of a human rights group would not burn a holy book and receive a charge of inciting racial hatred.

A human rights group would not fight each other while being addressed by a bereaved mother.

A human rights group would not associate with religious extremists who believe homosexuals should be killed.

A human rights group would not accept funding from a donor who dreams of apartheid style ghettos for Muslims and liberal ‘traitors’ and also funds fascist political parties.  

The head of a human rights group would not stop the immigration of people based on their religion.

Members of human rights groups would not give Nazi salutes, especially in public.

Members of a human rights group would not attempt to commit blatant insurance fraud en masse.

Events held by human rights groups do not incur costs of £2,000,000 for riot police.

Events by human rights groups do not require local businesses to close and board up their windows.

Members of human rights groups do not rampage through streets terrorising women and children in fast food restaurants.

A human rights group would not seek to forge links with a known terrorist organisation.

A human rights group wouldn’t fraternise with a founder of a designated hate group, who denies the Bosnian genocide and claims Barack Obama is the illegitimate son of Malcolm X.

A human rights organisation would not allow a man found in possession of child pornography to continue his activism, and attempt to cover it up.

Members of human rights organisations would not find themselves in the situation of being charged with “soliciting murder and using threatening, abusive or insulting words likely to stir up racial hatred” and conspire with people accused of “possessing information likely to be useful to a person committing or preparing an act of terrorism and disseminating a terrorist publication.”

Members of human rights groups do not receive ASBO’s for persistently committing violent crimes.

Members of human rights groups do not pose proudly with crossbows, swords and firearms on social networking sites.

Let’s drop the pretense and call a spade a spade shall we. The EDL are not a human rights organisation, you are a single issue, far right, English nationalist/nativist group. Rather than chant ‘Allah is a paedo’ or ‘Muslim paedos off our streets’, a human rights group would engage in dialogue, conduct research, co-operate with communities and authorities and present its findings with recommendations. The EDL has no intention of doing any of this. I therefore propose that you cut the disingenuous bullshit, show a bit of integrity and admit what you are.

And Justice for all………?

While the tabloid media is shrieking it’s disgust from the front pages with regards to the ‘Muslim Poppy Burners’ £50 fine, and the right wing reactionaries are jerking their knees with rage. EDL ‘leader’ Guramit Singh walked free, without charge after being cleared of intentionally causing religiously aggravated harassment, alarm or distress. He was arrested on December 11th, 2010 at the EDL’s Peterborough demo after a complaint about a speech he gave there. If you haven’t had the pleasure here’s a snippet:

I’m going to tell you precisely right now what threat of Islam is. Muhammad and Islam is not a religion… Muhammad was a paedophilic pirate… Islam, in not just this country but around the world, has been using their disgusting threat, their threat has been going on for 1400 years, “if you do not bow before Muhammad and his so-called Allah, you are to be beheaded”… Hitler had fuck all on Muhammad.

The Koran and the Hadiths is written in Arabic. Muslims are not allowed to be taught Arabic in the mosque. Muslims are told, “do not question what your Imam says”, although they don’t even know what the Imam’s saying, because the Imam’s just a “Allah, fuck it”. Stick your Allah up your arse, you cunt. Fuck em, fuck em, fuck em. I’m not being funny, fuck em. I may get arrested for this shit, but fuck em, fuck em, I’m not having it, fuck em, fuck em, fuck em, fuck em.

…The UAF, the counter-protestors, the members of the Islamic community: English Defence League 2011, we’re coming to a street near you. We ain’t even fucking started yet.

Standard EDL fare really. Mention of paedophilia? Check. Beheading for infidels? Check. Comparison to Hitler? Check. But let’s get this straight. His message to the assembled crowd and any passers by regarding Muslims is “fuck ‘em”. Ten times no less. An additional ‘fuck’, a ‘fucking’, one ‘arse’, one ‘shit’ and he dropped the C-bomb for good measure. On a PA system. Also, is it just me or does the closing salvo sound like a threat?

Let’s look at the poppy burning incident without rage tinted glasses. There were between 30 – 50 MAC members depending on the source. There were a handful of signs with anti-war/anti-military slogans such as ‘British Soldiers: Terrorists’, ‘Hands off Muslim lands’ and pro-Islam ones like ‘Islam will dominate’ and ‘There is no God but Allah’. There were also some tasteless and provocative chants of ‘British Soldiers Burn in Hell’ and ‘Mass Murderers’. As their piece de resistance they proceeded to burn two plastic poppies. As one of them stated: “We wanted to upset people and we wanted them to hurt.”

They wanted to offend people, they wanted attention and they got exactly what they wanted. Job done. The offenders were arrested and processed through the justice system. The fine was for a “calculated and deliberate insult to the war dead and everyone who mourns them” according to reports from the court. I haven’t seen what the actual charge is, presumably some form of Public Order Offence. We can argue about inconsistent sentencing, but isn’t this about right? It was disrespectful, hateful, and inflammatory but what exactly should have happened? The people angriest at this would probably support deportation, a prison sentence or if you look at EDL facebook pages gruesome torture and a slow, painful death. But on what grounds? Treason? This crime still exists and is punishable with life imprisonment. I’m sure this would be just about acceptable for the EDL/BNP lot. They would still prefer the 19th century punishment of hanging, disemboweling, beheading and quartering. No one has been prosecuted for treason since the infamous William ‘Lord Haw-Haw’ Joyce who was executed in 1946. This includes crimes during the ‘troubles’ which were prosecuted as murder or other crimes. In 2005 however the government considered bringing the charge back into practice for Islamic clerics that had been condoning terrorism and the actions of insurgents in Afghanistan and Iraq. At the time Lord Carlile QC, the governments reviewer of anti-terror laws said:

“I don’t think there is a lawyer still alive and working who has ever appeared in any part of a treason case,” the Liberal Democrat peer told BBC News. Treason usually applied to wars between nations, he said. Lord Carlile argued existing laws could be used, such as charges of solicitation or incitement to murder, commonly seen in contract killing cases.

This is exactly what happened in 2006 when Abu Hamza was  charged with inciting murder under the Terrorism Act 2000, and was sentenced to 7 years in prison. No matter how offensive the fuckwittery of the MAC, it’s not inciting murder (unless you count the homicidal sentiments directed towards them). I’m going to cut to the chase. The ill-feeling towards the poppy burners has as much to do with their faith and ethnicity as their actions. It’s racism wrapped up in nationalism. The disrespecting of people who have died in wars is one thing, but the fact that it may be immigrants or sons of immigrants doing it is what’s sending the frothing into overdrive. The burning of a symbol such as the poppy is too much for people who’s national pride is derived in a large part from imperialism and military conquests. Not being one who shares in this pride, whilst I appreciate the symbolism, to me they just incinerated some flimsy plastic flowers. It was a cheap publicity stunt that should have been denied any sort of acknowledgement. For me, Singh’s abusive tirade was the more serious incident. It was much closer to the hate speech of Abu Hamza than the actions of MAC. What if something had gone horribly wrong in Peterborough that day? Would he and the EDL be held responsible? Would Singh be facing a lengthy period behind bars?

Tommy Robinson said: “We are pleased the charges were dropped – there was nothing in them.”

Nothing?

Fighting Talk

When is enough, enough? How much does one have to endure before it’s acceptable to cross the line that your conscience and values mark out? Is there a point whereby you’re permitted to stoop to a previously unchartered level and still keep your dignity and morality in tact? Is there a time and a place where, allowing the most primal animal instincts within us to overcome our better judgement, is justifiable?


I like to think I’m a pacifist. I’m pretty laid back and reserved, I’m usually calm and rational even in heated situations. I don’t have a short temper, and even when I lose it, instigating violence has never entered my mind. I don’t experience a red mist and I’m always able to stay in control of my actions. The thought of inflicting pain on someone else doesn’t sit easily with me at all. Maybe I’m getting soft in my old age. Maybe being a father has given me an added sense of empathy and compassion. Hurting someone means hurting somebody’s son, father, husband, brother. I don’t really want to do that.

Solving problems with reasoning and forgiveness gives me a much greater sense of satisfaction than I imagine knocking someone out would. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not trying to sound smug and superior because it actually frustrates me sometimes. I’ve been in situations where a confrontation was a possibility, and I know other people would have taken that step, but I’ve decided it’s just not worth the hassle. But maybe giving my alpha male instincts a bit of exercise would have been the best thing to do? Would letting a loudmouthed bully off the hook give him the confidence to pick on someone else more vulnerable than me? Am I showing a sign of weakness that encourages the bully? Would flexing a bit of muscle enhance my male pride and earn me respect and admiration? Maybe, but it’s just not in my nature.

I’ve also developed a keener sense of self preservation in fatherhood. Getting into a physical confrontation is dangerous, that’s pretty obvious. But people are unpredictable when the testosterone and adrenaline are flowing, not to mention alcohol. The survival instinct kicks in and anything can happen. A bottle or pint glass can turn skin and flesh into a bloody mess. Someone’s head between a heavy foot and concrete pavement could mean curtains. You could end up unrecognisable, in prison or dead, over something trivial just to save face. It’s not just one person that suffers the consequences.

Where am I going with this rambling self analysis? Well, as usual, the racists have got me wound up. I tell myself not to react, but I have to. I shouldn’t look, but it’s like a car crash. Those four characters that open up a world of hate and bile: #EDL. It’s like internet crack for do-gooders like me. One hit and there’s no going back. No matter how unhealthy and damaging it is, I’ve just got to have my daily fix. But it never changes. The same vile racists, spewing out the same vile clichés. No matter how many attempts are made to educate and inform them. No matter how many myths and lies you debunk, with quotes, facts and statistics, the record never changes. Using irony and wit to combat the hate doesn’t work either. On a few occasions I’ve let myself down and even resorted to childish insults and personal abuse. It’s like picking an itchy scab. Momentary relief followed by the realisation that you’ve just reopened the wound and made it worse.

Why take it so seriously, it’s only Twitter? I know this, but I also know that Twitter is just the tip of the iceberg. It pales in comparison to some of the comments written on the EDL Facebook pages. Dig a little deeper into the history of the EDL, their affiliations, their family tree, and it becomes apparent that even if the rank and file are a knuckle dragging laughing stock, there are far more powerful and sinister characters pulling the strings, and lending support. Amongst the foot soldiers are hardcore racists, neo-Nazi’s, and white supremacists. These aren’t gullible kids who are being manipulated. These are dangerous people who will not change their views. They’re using the surge in Islamophobia and the EDL movement as the bandwagon they’ve been looking for since the demise of the National Front and Combat 18. It gives them the outlet for violence that the BNP doesn’t and the pretence of being a non-racist pressure group as cover.

A cursory glance at screen captures from the EDL Facebook is enough to confirm that there are a large number of people willing to use violence and intimidation to realise their racist ideals. It’s not uncommon to see suggestions of ethnic cleansing, arson, and murder along with military imagery and balaclava-clad men with machetes, Samurai swords or firearms. Is it all just posturing and empty rhetoric? The fact that there are a number of members, who make no secret of their convictions for racially motivated assaults, hooligan activities, paramilitary affiliations, as well as some who are already serving time for murder, or on terrorism charges seems to suggest it’s not all just hot air.

The EDL have also recently ‘enjoyed’ much media exposure, and are making a name for themselves on mainland Europe and Stateside. They have overtly aligned themselves with the Jewish Defence League, a Zionist organisation who the FBI have classed as a right wing terrorist group, and the SPLC have called a hate group involved in anti-Arab terrorism. The FBI also claims they have been involved in plotting terrorist attacks within the United States. Alan Lake, a multi millionaire business man, has previously approached UKIP with the intention of politicising the EDL. He has provided them with funding, and has also financed and advised far right political parties in Europe. Many people believe Lake to be the EDL puppet master.

There’s no denying that the EDL has evolved significantly since its inception. In fact the whole Islamophobic movement has become the right wing bandwagon of choice in recent years. Fox News, The Tea Party, SIOE & SIOA, EDL, Geert Wilders & PVV, Pamela Geller, Robert Spencer, Melanie Phillips, Daily Star, Daily Express, Daily Mail, the Sun, Sweden Democrats and others have all found it very lucrative and profitable.

Despite this, the poor turnout of the EDL’s recent Luton demo has led many to believe that they have lost their initial momentum, and the increase in publicity has worked against them. Right leaning ‘news’ papers such as the Daily Mail have been (hypo)critical, and even the Daily Star have backtracked from what seemed to be a sympathetic stance. Their planned demo in Birmingham (in protest at two Respect Party councilors who refused to give an ovation to a Marine receiving the George Cross) has been aborted due to the soldier in question distancing himself in no uncertain terms. Where does this leave them? They have certainly been shunned by the mainstream right wing. It will be interesting to see what transpires when the next major march is planned.

My take is they will undoubtedly gain members and sympathisers with the exposure (and continued anti-Muslim media and government bias), but inevitably more critics and opposition to boot. It’s what form this opposition takes that is really at the heart of this blog post. One of the reasons I started this blog was to address the Islamophobic myths and lies. An attempt to demystify, and re-humanize the bogeyman that has been created. There is no substitute for the truth. Knowledge and understanding are the real keys to stopping the hate. But I fear that the vast majority of the EDL only believe what suits their agenda, and will only take notice of anything that re-affirms their views. They have financial backing and influential allies. In one form or another, these people are here to stay and so is their bigotry. It’s up to us how successful they, and future generations are.

Am I going to be arguing with the EDL on the internet for the rest of my life? There’s only so much banging my head against a brick wall I can take. The frustration and anger I feel at their inability and unwillingness to engage in meaningful dialogue is not good. Not good for my stress levels and not good for society. It’s also an indication that they aren’t going to back down from their stance. There are plenty of people willing to fight fire with fire. Who believe that the only way to talk to the EDL and their ilk is by using the only language they understand, hate and violence. They will look to the UKuncut movement, to Tunisia and to Egypt, and see that sometimes a degree of militancy is needed to kick-start a change, to highlight the urgency and importance of the cause. But is it ever possible to justify the use of force for good? Is there such a thing as righteous violence? I know, I’m on dangerous ground here. But how many times have you thought “that Tommy Robinson needs a good slap” or “Nick Griffin has got such a punchable face”? How satisfying was watching the Ajax fans humiliate the EDL in Amsterdam? Should we lose any sleep over some racists getting their comeuppance when they provocatively stray into ‘enemy territory’? I know it’s wrong and hypocritical, but these people bring out the worst in me.

The approach of Hope not Hate at the Luton demo was exactly what was needed on the day. Avoiding confrontation and liaising with the local community was the right thing to do. Hopefully this is the way forward in defeating the EDL. My worry is that the more peaceful their demos are, the more chance they have of creating a more acceptable image. If their events take on a more respectable guise, how long before they are family events with new generations of poisoned minds with no visible opposition? Will they just go away if we ignore them? Just fizzle out with a whimper? Am I overestimating them and underestimating the general goodness in humanity? I hope so.

I’d better add a disclaimer here. This isn’t intended as a rallying cry or call to arms for the militant left. It’s just a stream of consciousness I’m using as therapy. I’m talking myself down from an angry place. It will all be better in the morning. Peace. 🙂

David Yaxley-Griffin

Half listening to Radio 5live on Saturday, while going about my business, in a haze of sleep deprivation, and the first 6 Nations hangover of the year. I caught the tail end of David Cameron’s speech in Munich. To my surprise he seemed to be making refreshingly balanced and even complimentary statements about Muslims and Islam. As I was going to be spending the majority of the afternoon keeping tabs on the EDL demo taking part in Luton that day, it gave my spirits a little boost.

A little while later, a news item on the PM’s speech reported him as having claimed that multiculturalism had failed, while also making criminally inaccurate and ignorant comments regarding what seemed to be the British Muslim community in isolation. I checked my Twitter feed as soon as I could, and the more I read, the more stunned and dismayed I became. It was as if he, and his writers, had used Daily Express back issues and BNP propaganda as research material. As a result he inadvertently gave a speech that, while not going as far as endorsing the EDL, legitimized their cause and their reasoning. The timing couldn’t have been worse. It was a kick in the teeth to every person working hard to combat the bigotry of the EDL, and an insult to the Muslim communities of the UK.

How could the Prime Minister of one of the most tolerant and compassionate countries in the World (in my opinion), get it so spectacularly wrong? He would surely have access to information that documents the work done within the Muslim community to counter extremism? Is he genuinely ignorant to the complex and varied reasons why segregation and division occur? In a way I hope he is. Because if his speech is an indication of what will be put into practice as part of the Governments anti-terrorism strategy, he will only alienate the very people best positioned to co-operate. If he is oblivious to this, at least there’s a possibility of him revising his position. But if this is actually another ideological policy, hidden behind disingenuous misinformation, designed to cut public funding, it worries me even more.

This thinly veiled attempt at justifying withdrawal of funds for Muslim organisations, andstirring of Nationalist pride will act as a rubber stamp for the EDL. Stephen Lennon has already welcomed Cameron’s words, and accepted them as approval for the EDL stance. Whilst Nick Griffin has also claimed that they echo the BNP’s sentiments. You’d think that this would be cause for concern for the Coalition, but instead they’ve issued an unapologetic defence of the speech. There will undoubtedly be numerous blogs and articles that will dissect Cameron’s words, policies and hypocrisy far more articulately and knowledgeably than myself, so I’ll leave that to them. What I will address though, is the concept of multiculturalism. What does he actually mean by ‘state multiculturalism’, and what does multiculturalism mean to me?

I’m assuming that when he’s talking of ‘state multiculturalism’, he’s referring to the popular right-wing cliché that New Labours immigration policy was an attempt at social engineering, whereby immigrants would keep them in power in a display of eternal gratitude, whilst also encouraging a dilution of British ‘identity’ and ‘values’ so precious to the Tories. This has been reported as fact, denied, and debated over and over, so I’ll leave it at that. It seems to me that when Cameron talks of this supposed doctrine, he’s referring to the acceptance and tolerance of diversity. But doesn’t see it as being compassionate, and aiding in a transitional process. His view is that it’s divisive and detrimental to society. This is what he said in February 2008.

“State multiculturalism is a wrong-headed doctrine that has had disastrous results. It has fostered difference between communities,”

“And it has stopped us from strengthening our collective identity. Indeed, it has deliberately weakened it.”

Cameron defined “state multiculturalism” as “the idea that we should respect different cultures within Britain to the point of allowing them – indeed encouraging them – to live separate lives, apart from each other and apart from the mainstream.”

it meant “not just essential information, but all information, endlessly translated into numerous languages, to cater for numerous people, who can then continue to go about their daily lives without ever having to learn English.

“Multiculturalism was manipulated to entrench the right to difference – which is a divisive concept. What we need is the right to equal treatment despite difference.”

On Sharia law:

If Williams meant that different communities should have different laws, then that would be “dangerous and illiberal”, the Tory leader said.

The introduction of sharia law for Muslims would be “the logical endpoint of the now discredited doctrine of state multiculturalism”, he said.

He went on: “It would alienate other communities who would resent this preferential treatment. It would provide succour to the separatists who want to isolate and divide communities from the mainstream.

“And it would – crucially – weaken, destabilise and demoralise those Muslims who embrace liberal values and desperately want to integrate fully in British society.”

Cameron said that “state multiculturalism” led to people accepting different cultural behaviour, even if it contravened human rights.

This not only shows his ignorance of Sharia law and its role, but is full of contradictions and huge assumptions. He seems to be inferring that segregation in our towns and cities is based on race and religion, without factoring in economic and social issues. It appears he’s putting the onus on the minority to integrate with the ‘mainstream’, but doesn’t seem to be aware of, or sympathetic to any challenges or obstacles they may face.

Is he actually proposing assimilation rather than integration? Does he expect immigrants, and children or grandchildren of immigrants to abandon all trace of their cultural heritage and identity? What exactly is he suggesting?

Something that really confuses and annoys me is the idea of a British culture, with British values and British identity. Am I alone in wondering what on earth this concept looks or feels like? I mean, I accept that there are character and personality traits that what the BNP would call indigenous British people have in common. The stereotypical stiff upper lip, don’t cause a scene, carry on regardless attitude. The inability to express emotion overtly. The permanently apologetic, awkward person. But even this is a rather outdated and romantic cliché, which fails to acknowledge individual differences.

Are my culture, values and identity identical to those of every other British person? Of course not. How could a married father of two, living in a predominantly white, but ethnically mixed, working class suburb of Cardiff have anything in common with a single, Oxbridge educated man, living in Chelsea? My lifestyle and experiences are worlds apart from many people living on my street. All I could reliably guess I share common ground with most male neighbours on are an interest in football and possibly similar musical tastes. Does a farmer in rural Scotland have an identical culture to an unemployed single mother living on a council estate high-rise in inner city London? Then how can an immigrant adopt a certain culture and a set of values that are supposedly uniquely British, when the ‘indigenous’ British people already have varying cultures, identities, values and moral codes? That’s before you start taking into account British Italians, Greeks, Jamaicans etc that have been part of our society for generations. Is there something I’m missing? Is my definition of culture different to David Cameron’s?  Here’s the Wikipedia definition.

  • An integrated pattern of human knowledge, belief, and behavior that depends upon the capacity for symbolic thought and social learning
  • The set of shared attitudes, values, goals, and practices that characterizes an institution, organization or group

The word multicultural suggests that there are several sets of the above criteria in existence in Britain. But how can that be as a result of race, nationality, faith or ethnicity, when people of the same race will naturally have different goals, attitudes, values, behaviours and practices already? What if we narrow down and simplify the criteria to positive values that the majority of us have in common, and the rights we hold dear? Regard for the law, free speech, democracy, tolerance and equality? That’s enough to be getting along with. Is Cameron suggesting that immigrants and Muslims already living here don’t share these values? Is he implying that all ‘indigenous’ Britons do exhibit these values? To suggest either is not only inaccurate, but extremely insulting. Let’s give him the benefit of the doubt on this one for now. Let’s assume that what he means by multiculturalism is, a variety of people from different ethnic backgrounds, maintaining their cultural identity, within a society that accepts their difference. As Wikipedia puts it:

The appreciation, acceptance or promotion of multiple cultures, applied to the demographic make-up of a specific place, usually at the organizational level, e.g. schools, businesses, neighbourhoods, cities or nations. In this sense multiculturalism approximates to respect for diversity.

The term may also describe people who have more than one culture in them (people who grew up with more than one cultural identity, also sometimes called bicultural).

If he’s claiming that this concept has failed in Britain, he must also accept that there cannot be true multiculturalism without the acceptance and respect of the host nation’s population. If that’s the case, Britain has failed multiculturalism. I don’t buy that for one second. Britain has welcomed immigrants from former colonies and beyond for decades, and they have played their part in transforming this country into a diverse and vibrant society, that has produced unique cultural phenomena. Multiculturalism in Britain has given us 2 Tone, Drum n Bass, Grime, Dubstep, M.I.A, Balti and Chicken Tikka Masala, as a direct result of the melting pot of cultures, styles and tastes.

No ones claiming Britain to be a utopian cross between a Benetton advert and The Truman Show. There are tensions, and some may indeed manifest themselves along ethnic or racial lines. There may well be issues within certain communities that are particular to a certain faith or nationality. But to present these issues with inaccurate information, and use them to justify unnecessary criticism of the Muslim community, and quite possibly introduce policies that target them unfairly, is disgraceful. Would assimilation eradicate social problems? No. The people who have issues with cultures and customs they see as alien to our society, would simply find another reason to discriminate, be it colour, religion, nationality or anything else that sets people apart from the ‘indigenous’.

In a poll conducted for the BBC in 2009, people were asked to agree or disagree with the statement “Our laws should respect and be influenced by UK religious values”. The proportion of Muslims who agreed (79 per cent) was higher than for Christians themselves (70 per cent). In a survey by the Centre for Social Cohesion, and ironically used selectively by the Daily Mail to portray British Muslims as condoning killing in the name of Islam, found that 89% of those surveyed said women should be treated equally, with only 5% disagreeing, only 25% had an issue with homosexuality, nearly 80% said it was possibly to be equally Muslim and British, 92% had a range of friends across cultural boundaries, and nearly 80% had respect for Jews (with only 7% expressing disrespect), while a similar number respected Atheists. More than 70% said they were more liberal than their parents. Is this an indication that as Cameron states;

“We have failed to provide a vision of society [to young Muslims] to which they feel they want to belong,” and “We have even tolerated segregated communities behaving in ways that run counter to our values. All this leaves some young Muslims feeling rootless. And the search for something to belong to and believe in can lead them to extremist ideology.”?

It wouldn’t appear so. Is he really this out of touch and badly informed? Or is it the start of something altogether more sinister?

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