contribution by Secunder Kermani, published first at The Samosa
Ever since its formation last year, the English Defence League (EDL) has insisted it is not racist and doesnâ€™t have a problem with ordinary Muslims, just radical extremists.
Amit Singh is a British-born Sikh and EDL activist who will address the EDLâ€™s demonstration in Stoke this Saturday to try and show British Asians that the group is neither racist nor anti-Muslim. But as I discovered, scratch beneath the moderate surface and a very different picture of the EDLâ€™s Asian poster boy emerges â€“ one of vitriolic rants against Muslims in general.
Amit Singh is a British-born Sikh in his late 20s, and one of the leading EDL activists in his hometown in the Midlands. He was introduced to me by an EDL spokesman, himself of mixed-race descent. He told me that people like Amit were of crucial importance in highlighting the fact that the EDL werenâ€™t racist, and in helping spread the group’s message within their own communities.
Amitâ€™s doing his speech to highlight the fact that weâ€™re not white supremacist, skinhead boot boys basically,â€ the spokesman explained. â€œIt would be a hell of a lot nicer to get more multicultural people there.â€ He said he wanted support from as many different communities as possible, including, he said, moderate Muslims.
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The EDL website highlights Amit’s role in an advert for this Saturday’s demonstration in Stoke: “We will have two speakers; one is a Sikh, and the other is one of our black members, both proud Britons, and both of whom have volunteered to help start the year off strong by telling the UAF [Unite Against Fascism] exactly where they can stick their dishonest claim that we are racists.” Amit isn’t named as the Sikh speaker on the website, but both Amit and the EDL spokesman confirmed it was him.
When I first spoke to Amit, he assured me there was a growing number of Sikhs joining the group to protest against militant Islam – although in reality, the numbers are unlikely to be more than a small handful out of Britain’s large Sikh community.
Amit told me he had joined the EDL after he was sent an invitation on Facebook to join a group opposing the organisationâ€™s march in Nottingham in December. â€œI googled EDL and I read what it was about, and I thought to myself straight away, â€˜well this is a really good cause why are we marching against them?â€™ Once I had spoken to a few people on their Facebook site and on the EDL forum I got involved and Iâ€™ve been marching ever since.â€
But Amit was insistent that the EDL wasnâ€™t against Muslims per se: â€œWeâ€™re not here to be anti-Muslim, anybody in the group who is anti-Muslim will be kicked out. Weâ€™re here to fight against Muslim extremism.
If Hindus were doing what the Muslims are doing, if Sikhs were doing it â€¦ whoever was to do it in this country, we would fight against them. I can understand that it can look like weâ€™re singling out Muslims but weâ€™re not, weâ€™re not here to do that. Weâ€™re against Muslim extremists.â€
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I was slightly troubled by some of Amitâ€™s views but on the whole they didnâ€™t seem too radical. He was certainly friendly with me, as were most of the other EDL members I had spoken to.
So I was shocked when I added him on Facebook â€“ his profile was littered with racist jokes and offensive rants he had posted against Muslims and the Prophet Muhammad:
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 â€¦ i just think we shud burn the cunts now!!
Be careful if you go out driving todayâ€¦ driving conditions are awful, ive just come off the road and hit a muslim!! It took me 10 minutes, 2 fields and a golf course, but I got the fucker!!
Hes one of the greatest naturalist of all times, searched the world and showed the british public animals and plants from across the world through the aid of television, and I congratulate him on his retirement, but please before you do retire sir richard attenborough [sic], any chance you can find me a moderate muslim????
[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!!
It would be unfair to automatically take someoneâ€™s Facebook comments as gospel, but the frequency and sheer vitriol of the statements, and the approving comments left by other EDL supporters, seem to give the lie to Amitâ€™s and the EDLâ€™s claims not to be prejudiced against ordinary Muslims.
When I asked about him about these comments Amit claimed that he had been receiving death threats from Muslims at the time, and that this had provoked him into writing many of them. He also said he had an outspoken sense of humour and that many comments were intended as jokes.
He did however admit that he viewed Islam as an inherently extremist religion. â€œI do believe that the majority [of Muslims] believe in these extreme actions â€¦ From what Iâ€™ve been told and what Iâ€™ve read it is an extremist religion.
He pointed to preachers like Anjem Choudary and Abu Hamza as proof of this and said they were responsible for this impression of the faith.
However, while Amit may be right that the EDL is not racist in the traditional sense – it seemingly has no problem with blacks, Sikhs or Hindus â€“ its claim to oppose only violent extremist Muslims rings hollow.
A longer and more detailed version of the article is over at The Samosa
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