Is the party over for the EDL?

October 18, 2013

 

The English Defence League is likely to splinter into smaller regional units with some supporters shifting to more extreme movements in the wake of the leadership’s resignation, according to a former member of the police unit that spent years covertly monitoring the group.

Even before last week’s shock decision by Tommy Robinson and Kevin Carroll to abandon the anti-Islamic street movement they formed in 2009 – saying they no longer wished to be associated with the far-right extremists that came to their rallies – there were signs that the group was splintering and losing support.

Local EDL leaders held a Skype conference on 9 October in which they agreed to establish a new committee of regional organisers. They chose a new chairman, Tony Ablitt, a former organiser with the British Freedom Party, a short-lived political front for the EDL. They are due to hold a meeting on 26 October to discuss the group’s future strategy.

“The legacy of the EDL is a few thousand young, working class men who have been radicalised and handed a warped view of British Muslims and their beliefs,” said Matthew Goodwin, associate professor at the University of Nottingham. “It is unlikely that now, with the resignations, those men are simply going to abandon those views.”

Matthew Goodwin, from the University of Nottingham, stated that it would be hard for Mr Robinson to change.

“He comes from a section of society that is already likely to feel left behind by the economic transformation of Britain and under threat from immigration and seemingly ‘new’ groups in society, like Muslims,” said Matthew Goodwin. “Those views were forged during his younger years, so it is distinctly unlikely that he will fundamentally overhaul his beliefs. Once we are hard-wired in this way, it is extremely difficult, if not impossible, to move in a radically different direction.”

 

The Independent:

http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/politics/is-the-party-over-for-the-edl-8889961.html

Announcement of a Muslim Legal Defence League

Le Figaro

17.09.2013

Following the official launch of the “Muslim Legal Defence League” (“Ligue de défense judiciare des musulmans”) by the former lawyer Karim Achoulai this summer, their first action was announced to be a complaint to be made against the French satirical paper Charlie Hebdo for their publication of caricatures depicting the Quran last week.

The objective of the group is to “legally defend individual victims of discrimination based on their associated or actual appearance linked to Islam and their religious belief”. The group aims to legally challenge Islamophobia and aid individuals who have suffered discrimination because of their belief.

East London mosque awaits EDL march with fear and frustration

Among staff at the East London mosque, the sense of anger at plans by the English Defence League to demonstrate nearby on Saturday is amplified by their belief that there are more constructive things they could be doing with their time than planning how to respond to the far-right group. The far-right group’s latest attempt to march into Tower Hamlets has been banned from entering the heart of the borough, where the mosque is, but it will still pass too close for comfort.

 

The EDL is expected to muster between 1,000 and 2,000 supporters, while the court heard that several thousand people were expected to turn out to oppose it, making it one of the biggest anti-fascist demonstrations of recent years. The EDL’s failure to overturn the route restriction was some relief to Khan given that EDL marches have a tendency to descend into violence and when they have previously attempted to enter the area thousands of young Muslims have gone out on to the streets to oppose them.

 

Khan says the EDL first focused on East London mosque after an investigation by Channel 4’s Dispatches into the mosque and the group that runs it, the Islamic Forum of Europe (IFE), in 2007. The programme accused the IFE of seeking to change society in accordance with Islamist values and the mosque of hosting hate preachers, including people who voice homophobic views, accusations which continue to be levelled at it. Khan rejects outright any suggestion that the mosque harbours or condones extremists. While acknowledging there have been instances in the past where people with unpalatable views have preached at the mosque he insists that these were usually at events organised by outside groups and that the mosque has tightened up its vetting procedures. But he said it was impossible to check on every previous statement of every possible preacher, especially when they are sometimes in Arabic (which he does not speak).

 

Abu Qatada’s family follow him out of Britain

Abu Qatada’s wife and five children left their taxpayer funded home in north-west London and were driven to Heathrow Airport by officials from the Home Office just after lunchtime. They then boarded the 5.05pm American Airlines flight to Amman, where Qatada is currently awaiting trial of terrorism charges.

 

The family’s departure signals a victory for the Home Office, which successfully secured Qatada’s deportation from Britain last month, following a decade long legal battle, which is estimated to have cost the taxpayer in excess of £3 million. A spokesman for the Home Office confirmed that the family had left and said they had also abandoned their bid to be granted the right to live here permanently. Sources said the Home Secretary would also use the powers available to her to prevent the family from returning to Britain in the future.

 

Members of the extremist English Defence League had also held protests against the family’s continued presence in the UK. In a letter to an Islamic website, one of Qatada’s sons recently wrote: “Racist pressure groups in Britain hold demonstrations outside the house on a weekly basis between four in the afternoon and eleven in the evening. These demonstrators would scream and curse at us and at Islam.”

Islam is way more English than the English Defence League

The English Defence League’s definition of what constitutes the English working class is a classic case of projection. To take the “working class” tag, never mind that Tommy Robinson (the leader of the EDL) owns his own business and so is technically petit-bourgeois – making him officially entitled to buy a cream and gold bathroom. The more contentious bit of the EDL’s identity is its claim to represent “the English”. The problem with this claim is that a hundred people will come up with a hundred ways of defining Englishness and each with disagree violently with each other. To quote George Bernard Shaw: “It is impossible for an Englishman to open his mouth without making some other Englishman hate or despise him.”

 

So while football hooliganism (out of which the EDL has spawned), covering your car in St George’s flags (English flag as opposed to the Union Jack), wearing balaclavas (a prevalent item of clothing at EDL marches and rallies) and spending time in prison (Tommy Robinson the leader of the EDL has been convicted of assault) is one definition of Englishness, others do exist. Today our meetings with foreign cultures are awkward precisely because we lack a solid sense of who we are. A lot of the fear shown towards Islam comes from the death of the Christian soul – we see a people who actually believe in something and we are intimidated.

 

By contrast, most Muslims cling on to values that were once definitively English and that we could do with rediscovering. Islam instructs its followers to cherish their families, to venerate women, to treat strangers kindly, to obey the law of any country they are in (yes, yes, it really does), and to give generously. One recent poll found that British Muslims donate more money to charity than any other religious group. Much is written about the need for Muslims to integrate better into English society, although states that 99 per cent of them probably already do.

 

This is a blog post written for the Daily Telegraph by Dr Tim Stanley. He is a historian of the United States. His biography of Pat Buchanan is available now. His personal website is www.timothystanley.co.uk and you can follow him on Twitter @timothy_stanley.

 

British tolerance is never a given. Post-Woolwich, it must be defended

If you’re living in a Muslim country you’ll notice Ramadan in many wonderful ways – but a not so wonderful way is the one where you live next to a mosque with really bad speakers over which it broadcasts those early, longer, seemingly louder calls to prayer during the holy month. In stark contrast, it is hard to imagine Channel 4’s planned 3am broadcasts of the Ramadan prayers will be observed by anybody not already observing this special holiday. And yet this move has been cast as a deliberate provocation by the channel itself – to bust our stereotypes of Islam – and by bigoted newspapers spinning the call to prayer as a call to impose sharia law in Britain.

 

And yet, rather than recognise how alarming and frightening this vicious spike in anti-Muslim attacks truly is, sections of the British media have been engaged in trying to underplay it. Underpinning all this was a confident appraisal of British culture, such as that suggested by Tony Parsons in the Mirror, who noted that we are “a civilised, polite, tolerant people” – as though that could magically stop us also being capable of bigotry or hatred. Forty percent of anti-Muslim attacks recorded by Tell Mama UK last year were linked to English Defence League sympathisers. But these attacks can only take place and then be so casually diminished in a culture that sees some degree of hatred or suspicion of Muslims as acceptable and understandable.

 

Fortunately, though, tolerance really is a component of British life: that is what has prompted the flood of messages of support for British mosques, the solidarity across communities, and the anti-fascist protests that are organised to face down racist mobilisations by the EDL. Tolerance is something that makes people proud of Britain, but it is never a given; it always has to be defended – more than ever in the testing times we face today, and even when the attacks seem as superficially schoolyard as the one about the televised call to prayer.

 

English Defence League leaders arrested on way to Woolwich

Two English Defence League leaders arrested as they attempted to visit the spot where Drummer Lee Rigby was murdered have been released on bail. EDL leader Tommy Robinson and his co-leader Kevin Carroll were detained by police on suspicion of obstructing officers outside Aldgate East station in east London as they attempted to stage what they claimed was a charity walk to Woolwich Barracks via the East London Mosque. Scotland Yard said it had imposed conditions due to fears that both the march and gathering would “result in serious public disorder and serious disruption to the life of the community” and a breach of the conditions would be a criminal offence. The police said attempts had been made to discuss the march and gathering with the EDL and offered it two alternative routes that avoided Tower Hamlets, home to the East London Mosque.

Right-wing American speakers planning to join the EDL’s Woolwich march ‘should be banned from entering the country’

The Home Secretary is understood to be considering a request to ban two of the people behind a campaign against New York’s “Ground Zero Mosque” from entering the UK. Pamela Geller and Robert Spencer, who are among America’s most notorious anti-Muslim campaigners, have been invited to speak at an English Defence League rally in Woolwich to mark Armed Forces Day and the death of Drummer Lee Rigby. But the chair of the Home Affairs Select Committee Keith Vaz has written to Ms May expressing his concern and labelling them “incendiary speakers”. In his letter, Mr Vaz wrote: “These individuals are infamous in America for inciting racial hatred, including sponsoring discriminatory advertisements placed on public transport. “It is clear that the location, motivation and attendees at this march will incite hatred. Adding incendiary speakers such as Pamela Geller and Robert Spencer just fuels the fire.”

 

Mr Vaz said: “I am alarmed that the EDL is planning this type of march in Woolwich. Before we have to pay the costs for the extra policing required for this demonstration the Home Secretary should consider using her discretion to ban these two speakers from entering the country. A ban should be enforced properly and physically stop people entering our borders.” Scotland Yard said that it was aware of the march and would have an appropriate policing plan in place.

 

A government source indicated that the Home Secretary was looking into the proposal to ban the pair. However, a spokesman refused to confirm this, saying that it would not be appropriate to discuss individual cases.

 

EDL co-founder Stephen Yaxley-Lennon – who also goes by the name ‘Tommy Robinson’ – said: “It is ridiculous. We want other extremists to be banned from entering the country. These two people have never been arrested, they are well-respected in America. It is fascism, to me.”

 

Neither Ms Geller nor Mr Spencer responded to requests for comment.

‘I am not a Nazi’, says EDL leader Tommy Robinson

 

Tommy Robinson, who is the organisation’s co-founder, was grilled about the EDL in a highly charged interview on the BBC’s Sunday Politics. Confronted by images of EDL supporters giving what appeared to be Nazi salutes, Mr Robinson said it was a “manipulated photo”. Asked by presenter Andrew Neil if it was a “fascist Nazi salute by any definition” he said: “I am not a Nazi, I hate Nazis, I hate fascism.” Mr Robinson said that the EDL had now advised that “whenever people hold their hands up like that we have told them to give the V” to avoid any misunderstanding. He said: “Nazism and Islamism are on the opposite sides of the same coin – we oppose both. Nazism has been defeated and Islamism is spreading across the country.” Mr Robinson said it was “political correctness gone mad” that the Help the Heroes charity had turned down a donation from the EDL in the wake of the murder of Drummer Lee Rigby in Woolwich. He added that the EDL had support among serving British soldiers: “Ordinary British squaddies support us – I know they do.” Last week serving soldiers were warned that taking part in any EDL activities could result in their dismissal. Asked if Britons were expected to believe that the EDL was “no more menacing than the Girl Guides”, he said: “Has anyone from the English Defence League blown anything up, has anyone from the English Defence League killed anyone, has anyone planned to bomb anything? “What you have to understand is there is a massive undercurrent of anger across this country – I have got my finger on the pulse, people are angry, you need to harness and channel that anger which is what we are trying to do.”

Islamist gang of six jailed for at least 18 years each for plotting bomb attack on EDL rally

Six Islamist extremists have been jailed for a total of more than 100 years for plotting a gun and bomb attack on an English Defence League rally that could have sparked spiralling communal violence in Britain. The Islamist extremists planned a bomb and gun attack on an English Defence League rally in the knowledge that it would spark a tit-for-tat spiral of violence, a court heard. The plot to bomb the rally in Dewsbury, West Yorkshire, in June last year failed only because of a mixture of incompetence and chance after the plotters turned up late. One of their cars was then impounded following a traffic check on their way home. The bungling group had planned the attack for eight weeks, including research to find the telephone number of the EDL’s leader Tommy Robinson and tracking the location of EDL rallies. The Old Bailey heard that it had planned “terrible vengeance” on the EDL for what it saw as blasphemous words and actions against Islam.

 

The six men being sentenced, all from the West Midlands, admitted planning the attack in April 2012. Jewel Uddin, 27, Omar Mohammed Khan, 31, and Zohaib Ahmed, 22, were jailed for 19-and-a-half years. Mohammed Hasseen, 24, Anzal Hussain, 25, and Mohammed Saud, 23, were given jail terms of 18 years and nine months.

 

All of the men except Hasseen travelled to Dewsbury on the day of the rally but arrived at around 4pm, while the event had finished earlier than expected, at 2pm. They were armed with two shotguns, swords, knives, a nail bomb containing 458 pieces of shrapnel, and a partially assembled pipe bomb.

 

As they drove home to Birmingham, one of their cars was pulled over by police because a plotter failed to fill out an online application form properly and the car showed up as having no insurance. The weapons were found several days later along with declarations of war addressed to the “kafir (non-believer) female and self-proclaimed Queen Elizabeth” and David Cameron. The plotters were rounded up by West Midlands officers after a huge anti-terrorism operation.

 

Bobbie Cheema QC, prosecuting, told the court: “They intended to bring about a violent confrontation with the EDL during which they intended to use weapons to cause serious injuries and they anticipated, each one of them, that some victims may have died.”

Mr Robinson briefly watched proceedings from the public gallery of the Old Bailey and called out “God Save the Queen” when the sentences were announced. Outside, police stepped up security as dozens of EDL members gathered at a pub close to the court. One man was held on suspicion of being drunk and disorderly.