The English Defence League (EDL), which is a far-right group that claims to be anti-extremist but not anti-Muslim, has seen a dozen of its members arrested yet again after a street brawl involving UAF (Unite Against Fascism). UAF are right to oppose the EDL, but too often they just seem to end up in street battles with them, which just hands more ammunition to the EDL and their ilk.
The EDL has tried to cover its tracks in the past by only taking about Islamist extremists in order to garner wider public support, but their imagery and some of their language (including from their leadership) betrays their true feelings, as ordinary Muslims and Asians in general are targeted and insulted.
The EDL seems to be a different beast from the BNP. It is less outwardly hostile to non-whites (and probably is in reality as well, though that is not saying much), and is defined by its Islamaphobia more than anything else. It has no noticeable political ambitions, and would probably struggle to pick off votes that would normally go to the BNP of the National Front.
How best to combat it? Firstly, we need to continue the excellent work done by Richard Bartholomew and others in order to expose their unsavoury links and views: the EDL must not be allowed to become seen as a genuinely anti-extremist group. Their inconsistencies and bigotry needs to be publicised so they can’t get away with their public pronouncements of only being anti-extremist, not anti-Muslim/Asian.
Secondly, continue the protests against it, but don’t under any circumstances get involved in a conflict. Innocent people get hurt and it just makes UAF protestors look like a bunch of thugs to the general public, thus undermining any anti-EDL campaign.
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Filed in: EDL