Tuesday, 8 September 2009

English Defence League

What sort of folk are the England Defence League? 
They’ve been much in the news lately, as their demonstrations against Islamic extremism and the Sharia law have turned ugly, with scores of arrests. 
So who are they?  Are they just a bunch of far-right thugs as many in the media claim?   In short: No. But neither are they sqeaky clean.
Their website says
The English Defence League (EDL) has been formed by English people who are tired of our Government letting Terrorists preach Murder on our streets. It is not an act of Fascism to oppose Terrorists and Sharia.
Fair enough.  Then there was the demo in Birmingham on 5th September.  There’s a full uncut video on the EDL site, which I’ve sat through.  A young fellow, whose name I couldn’t quite catch,  spoke quite well.  Some points he made:
  •       We’ll tolerate you, if you tolerate us
  •       We’re not racist.  We’re British people; you can be Muslim, white, Chinese, black, whatever, all we’re against is people who call our soldiers ‘murderers’.  
  •       We should put aside our differences and joint together saying ‘we’re not having this’ [ie, extremism and sharia law] 
  •       Do whatever you want, just play by the rules.
  •       Anybody is welcome in the EDL, we’re just against extremism and the Sharia law in England.
As he spoke, it was rabble rousers from the United Against Fascim group that instigated any violence there was.  The EDL people were standing behind a group of police, doing nothing but holding posters, so any implication that this “right wing group” was inciting violence, are false.  The Posters said said things like:
  •        Anjam Choudry is a traitor.  [AC is indeed an extremist ratbag who has called for the killing of British troops and the overthrow of British Parliament, the killing of apostates from Islam and stoning of women]
  •       Ban the Burkha
  •       Black and White Unite
  •       We’re not the BNP
  •       Say “no” to more Sharia law
  •       Love England, Hate extremism
  •       Say No to London Mega Mosque
  •       Muslim Bombers off our streets.
One might quibble with one or two of these sentiments, but they’re hardly the stuff of hard-right ratbaggery.  And a curiosity: the militant Islamic site Islam4UK has come out defending the EDL, saying they’re not a BNP front, and offering a public debate with them on the Sharia!  Wonder what the agenda there is?  They say that they’ve been misunderstood, that Islam and Sharia are misunderstood, so they want the media to know that EDL have also been misunderstood!  How thoughtful of them….

Meantime, those against the EDL must by corollary be FOR the Burkha, FOR disunity of black and white and FOR Sharia.  I wonder if they really know that.  Not from the comments that I’ve seen on, for example, the Guardian site “comments is free”.

So, if they didn’t incite the violence and their sentiments are sound(ish), is the EDL ok then?
Not quite.  I was a bit startled by the use of the Union Jack and the Cross of St George at the demo and on their website.  Any time there’s overt patriotism verging on nationalist, I’m worried,  the “last refuge of the scoundrel” and all that.  And over this part of the world, no less than in Europe, nationalism has has had some rather nasty consequences.

Then I saw claims, in Times Online, that members of the BNP had “infiltrated” the EDL and that a former BNP member had designed the EDL website.  I don’t have time to track down whether that’s true, but it doesn’t surprise me; it was my impression when I went to the site: all aggressive red, black and Union Jack.

So these guys are not the sort of group that I’d wish to join. 

What’s needed still is a broad-based coalition of concerned citizens to come out against the Sharia.  Creeping Sharia is a real worry for western societies and all that our mums and dads fought for: freedom of belief, freedom of speech, respect for the rule of law, equality of sexes and races, and so forth.  Sharia is diametrically opposed to all of those.  Any doubt about that?  Read the source: the ‘Umdat al Salik, (The Reliance of the Traveller) the Classic Manual of Islamic Sacred Law [the Sharia] and recent “Cruel and Unusual Punishment”, by Nonie Darwish.  Both referenced at right.

2.   Islam4UK
3.   Guardian site, “comment is free”: should there be a counter demo to the EDL, 4th September
4.   Times Online: Birmingham riots: young men looking for the excitement of a fight, 7th September.