Pegida march in Edinburgh falters after only ‘4 supporters’ showed up

Pegida’s first demonstration in Scotland appears to have flopped, with unconfirmed reports from the police that only four supporters turned out. The right wing anti-islam umbrella group, which originated in Germany, had planned a march and demonstration in Edinburgh on Saturday.  Supports of Pegida were set to march from Edinburgh’s Waverley Station to a rally outside the Scottish Parliament with support from the Scottish Defence League.

A mass anti-racism march was held as a counter-protest, which included activists from Unite Against Fascism (UAF). UAF also held an anti-fascist march in Glasgow today. There was some doubt as to whether the Pegida demonstration took place at all, because counter-demonstrators report that its supporters were not visible. However, unconfirmed police reports that the demonstration did take place, despite the minimal turnout. Images on social media of the counter-demonstration indicate that the Pegida demonstrators were outnumbered by at least 50:1.

Why is the left so blinkered to Islamic extremism?

The result, a new report by the One Law for All campaign: Siding with the Oppressor: The Pro-Islamist Left notes, has been an anti-war movement working enthusiastically with those advocating the murder of homosexuals, a left-wing Mayor of London embracing a man who said Adolf Hitler had been sent by Allah to punish the Jews, and a group set up ostensibly to oppose fascism warmly welcoming religious fascists into its own ranks. Because the left doesn’t police its borders in the way that the right has learned to do – social democrats like to pretend the far-left are on the same side as them – extremists regularly sneak into the mainstream on the back of ostensibly progressive front groups.

 

A good example is Unite Against Fascism. Launched in 2003 as a response to the electoral activity of the British National Party, UAF spends most of its time these days organising counter demonstrations against the EDL. An honourable way to pass the time, you might think. UAF’s definition of what constitutes fascism, however, is a peculiar one. Not only are those advocating the resurrection of a fascistic Islamic caliphate seemingly not worth opposing, they have been actively welcomed into the UAF fold by the leadership. One of UAF’s vice-chairs is Azad Ali, affairs co-ordinator for the Islamic Forum of Europe, an offshoot of the far-right Islamist group Jamaat-e-Islami. As well as quoting an Islamist militant on his website in 2008 who claimed it was a religious obligation to kill British and American soldiers, Ali is on record as saying of democracy that “if it means, you know, at the expense of not implementing the Sharia, no-one’s gonna [sic] agree with that. Of course no-one agrees with that”.

 

On telephoning UAF’s office to clarify the group’s position on Islamic fascism, One Law for All was told by a UAF representative that there was “no such thing”.

 

As you make your way through the report you notice that the people who have brought Islamists inside the progressive tent crop up in various left-wing campaigns again and again – usually to accuse those expressing concern about extreme religious conservatism of Islamophobia. The individuals mentioned in the report ever been disowned by the political left. On the contrary, they remain ubiquitous and their organisations are still treated as if they were respectable progressive outfits.

 

In a disastrous irony, the pro-Islamist left has ended up in the same place as the white far-right. The perception of Muslims as synonymous with Islamism – criticism of Islamism is characterised as criticism of Muslims – is precisely the view taken by groups such as the EDL.

 

Anti-fascists fuel the fire of hate

Last weekend, Tony Brett, a Liberal Democrat councillor in Oxford and the city’s deputy lord mayor, found what he called a “disgraceful rabble” of people climbing on the city’s main war memorial — squashing, he said, the flowers that mourners had placed there, then trying to remove half of them altogether and “jeering” other visitors as they paid their respects. That day, the memorial was supposed to be the scene of a wreath-laying by the far-Right, racist English Defence League. But neither Mr Brett, nor a local newspaper reporter on the scene, saw any sign of any EDL presence. All the hate Mr Brett said came from the self-appointed opponents of bigotry, a group called Unite Against Fascism (UAF). “It seemed to me they were doing exactly the kind of thing they were supposed to be protesting against,” said Mr Brett. “I will absolutely not support any hint of racism, Islamophobia or any other form of hate, be it from the EDL or any other group. That day I saw it from another group.” The Oxford branch of UAF said its members climbed on the memorial at the request of a photographer. “The EDL’s use of war memorials is an offence to all those who died fighting fascism,” it said in a statement. Since the murder of Drummer Lee Rigby last month, there have reportedly been at least 107 arrests during BNP, EDL and UAF demonstrations. At least 69 of those arrested, just under two thirds, were anti-fascist demonstrators, at least 58 of them UAF.

 

Prominent campaigners such as the gay rights activist Peter Tatchell accuse UAF of a selective approach to bigotry. “UAF commendably opposes the BNP and EDL but it is silent about Islamist fascists who promote anti-Semitism, homophobia, sexism and sectarian attacks on non-extremist Muslims,” said Mr Tatchell. “It is time the UAF campaigned against the Islamist far Right as well as against the EDL and BNP far Right.”

 

One reason why UAF will not campaign against Islamist extremists is that one of its own vice-chairmen, Azad Ali, is one. Mr Ali is also community affairs coordinator of the Islamic Forum of Europe, a Muslim supremacist group dedicated to changing “the very infrastructure of society, its institutions, its culture, its political order and its creed from ignorance to Islam”. Mr Ali has written on his blog of his “love” for Anwar al-Awlaki, the al-Qaeda cleric closely linked to many terrorist plots, including the September 11 attacks, and used to attend talks by Abu Qatada, the extremist cleric whom Britain is seeking to deport. He has described al-Qaeda as a “myth” and denied that the Mumbai attacks were terrorism. On his blog, he also advocated the killing of British troops in Iraq. He sued a newspaper for reporting that he had said this, and lost.

 

The racist Right thrives on two things: publicity and the politics of victimhood. The mob outrage practised by UAF gets the fascists more of both. Mr Brett added: “It just antagonises the situation. The way to deal with this stuff is not to fight it aggressively. That’s exactly what they want you to do.” Nobody has denied that there has been an increase in tensions since the murder of Drummer Rigby. The danger is that by exaggerating it, and by the politics of confrontation, supposedly anti-racist groups fuel the very division, polarisation and tension they are supposed to counter.

Woolwich attacks: BNP and anti-fascists in street clashes

Far-right groups march across UK in wake of Woolwich killing, while police in London arrest 58 during angry scenes yesterday after anti-fascist demonstrators clashed with British National Party members outside the Houses of Parliament. The far-right group’s march was one of around 60 planned across the country yesterday to mark the death of Drummer Lee Rigby, murdered in Woolwich last month.

 

Nick Griffin turned up around two hours later and, addressing reporters, said his supporters had come out to protest peacefully and to oppose any Islamic presence in Britain. And he claimed that the murder of Drummer Rigby would not be an isolated incident.

 

The Metropolitan Police said that the UAF faction numbered around 300 people and the BNP group around 150.