Over at Guardian CIF, Yahya Birt and Asim Siddiqui tackle two different parts of the puzzle.
The EDL say they are protesting against British jihadis, such as “Islam4UK” (an al-Muhajiroun offshoot) which seeks Sharia law in Britain. If this is the case, they would have common cause with British Muslims as the group has such little support. Its leader, Anjem Choudary, is a hate figure who would be hard pressed to even set foot in Harrow mosque. So if this was really about the Islamifcation of Britain, why not simply hound Choudary and his acolytes? Instead the EDL chose to provoke one of the largest and mainstream mosques â€“ and its mainstream congregation who have no association with these fringe groups nor any wish to impose Sharia law.
The simple answer of course is that the EDL are using extremists only as a cover for their agenda to rid Britain of all Muslims. Their top organisers have admitted this in various interviews. He adds:
The feeling of alienation amongst the white or Muslim working classes must be dealt with, their recruitment by violent extremists must be tackled in the same way. Extremist groups prey on the same vulnerabilities, sense of exclusion and lack of belonging â€“ and each feeds off the other.
Yahya Birt is on the same theme – tackling alienation. His point is that the government’s Prevent agenda ends up treating British Muslims as an “at risk” set of communities, rather than simply citizens. And he rightly says that focusing on far-right white extremism could simply replicate the problem – treating young, white working class youths as “at risk”.
Most of the commenters seem to misunderstood his point – that Muslims should be treated as ordinary British citizens (something the very same people are always banging on about) rather than dangerous basket cases.
The problems are obvious, the solutions less so. Is the Prevent agenda more like a band-aid that fails to heal the underlying wound? Perhaps. But it’s difficult to see what straightforward alternatives there are.
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Filed in: British Identity,Islamists,Terrorism