Tackling Islamophobia

5 December 2010
In this op-ed, Robert Lambert calls on the long-overdue proper debate on anti-Muslim violence and intimidation:
“The new all-party parliamentary group investigating Islamophobia will need to encourage the coalition government to tackle anti-Muslim violence and intimidation as a matter of urgency. Too many victims have suffered in silence and without remedy since the phenomenon became widespread after 9/11 to allow even a day’s delay.
The violence – ranging from murder, grievous bodily harm, petrol bombings, political violence through to death threats and vandalism – has remained largely hidden and unremarked outside of the communities where it occurs for the best part of a decade.
What motivates the violence? Just as a minority of journalists feel licensed to denigrate Muslims in a way they would not dream of doing to any other faith or ethnic minority community so too a minority of gangs and individuals commit violence against Muslims and their places of worship and congregation in the mistaken but often honestly held belief that they are attacking ‘Muslim terrorists’ or ‘extremists’. Invariably this motivation can be traced back to influential media commentators and politicians – not solely to the British National Party and the English Defence League. (…)”

Muslims clash with police after burning poppy in anti-Armistice Day protest

11 November 2010

Muslims clashed with police after burning a large poppy in protest at Britain’s wars in Iraq and Afghanistan which was timed to coincide with Armistice Day’s two-minute silence.
About 35 Islamic protesters, dressed in dark clothes and with many masking their faces, carried banners and chanted slogans such as “British soldiers: terrorists”. The group confronted police officers and briefly fought with them, leaving one officer with a head injury requiring hospital treatment, and three arrests were made.
Around 50 counter demonstrators from the far-right English Defence League gathered nearby but officers kept the two sides apart.

Engaging Muslims in British society

26 October 2010

In recent years, few subjects have had more column inches, multimedia pieces and funding streams devoted to them than the integration of Muslims into British society. Whole essays have been devoted to the notion that donning the niqab (face veil) impedes the exchange of pleasantries in the street; research has been done on the radicalisation potential of Islamic student associations at universities; and online news sites are brimming with details of clashes between groups like the English Defence League and Muslims Against the Crusades.

While it should be clear to most people that the views represented on each end of this spectrum are crude, and exacerbated by the harshness and unreasonableness of their approach, further coverage should be given to the nuanced positions in between. In this overview of British-Muslim relations of the past years, Tehmina Kazi calls for a better mutual understanding by non-Muslims acknowledging the diversity of British Muslim belief and practice and by Muslims becoming more active in British politics.

Arrests at Amsterdam Demonstrations

Oct 31 2010

Police arrested several protestors a series of demonstrations and counter demonstrations in Amsterdam this weekend. The English Defence League, a radical right wing organization demonstrating in support of the anti-Islam campaign of Dutch politician Geert Wilders, was covered with a heavy policy presence. Large organized counter demonstration against Wilders occurred in the city center and anti-Wilders demonstrators also gathered at the metro station nearest the English Defence League site. Police arrested 34 people for not having id and for public order offences.

Dutch News – http://www.dutchnews.nl/news/archives/2010/10/police_arrest_34_at_prowilders.php

Radio Netherlands Worldwide via Expatica – http://www.expatica.com/nl/news/dutch-news/british-extremists-show-support-for-wilders_106894.html

Pro- and Anti- Wilders Demonstrations in Amsterdam

October 30 2010

Amsterdam saw several demonstrations around controversial anti-Islam politician Geert Wilders on October 30, 2010. The radical right wing English Defence League travelled to the Netherlands to rally in support of Wilders. While the rally was initially to be held on the central Museumplein, mayor Eberhard van der Laan claimed that he had evidence the organizers were seeking confrontation with both he police and anti-racist demonstrators. The demonstration was moved to the western port area. Several anti-racist interventions were held in response in the city.

Racist English Defence League commits hate-crimes against Muslims

Formed less than a year ago, the English Defence League has become the most significant far-right street movement since the National Front. The Guardian spent four months undercover with the movement, and found them growing in strength and planning to target some of the UK’s biggest Muslim communities. While the EDL claims to fight only Islamic extremism, the documentation reveals the group’s blatant racism and xenophobia against all Muslims at large.

This month, a trial against an EDL activist has been opened. The activist is charged with distributing anti-Muslim leaflets, intended to stir up religious hatred. The trial is expected to last up to two weeks.

Police arrest 15 in anti-Islam demonstration

Police arrested 15 people and four officers were injured when scuffles broke out at a demonstration by about 300 members of an anti-Islam group in central England on Saturday.

In the latest protest by the right-wing English Defence League, which was formed last year to campaign against Islamic extremism, police clashed with demonstrators as they sought to separate them from a rival anti-fascist march organised by United Against Fascism. Many of the EDL demonstrators had been drinking before the march in the central town of Stoke, during which members waved placards proclaiming “Patriotism is not racism” and “Terrorists off our streets”.

Right-wing anti-Islamic protest in Birmingham

It was supposed to be a “peaceful” protest by a group opposed to Islamic law and what it perceives as radical Islam. Or at least that is how the right-wing English Defence League (EDL) would have liked Saturday’s demonstration to be received.

But many had their doubts. Chief among them, the West Midlands Police, which spent the previous fortnight meeting Muslim community leaders to ensure that they told their followers to stay away. Less than a month earlier, a visit by EDL supporters to the city ended in a feud between them and counter-demonstrators, mainly of Asian backgrounds, and 35 people were arrested.

About 100 EDL supporters descended on Birmingham on Saturday morning, some carrying signs reading “Islamic Extremists Out” and “Make Britain Safe”. Others screamed insults against Allah and Islam as they made their way to a nearby pub.