A group calling itself the Scottish Defence League is likely to be refused permission to hold a planned march in central Glasgow in mid-November, Holyrood has learned.
The group, an offshoot of the English Defence League, which has been involved in violent clashes with Muslims and antifascist protestors in Birmingham and London in recent months, claims to not be anti-Muslim, but instead to be opposed to ‘Islamic extremism’. The SDL has announced its intention to hold a parade in Glasgow on November 14, a move bitterly opposed by local Muslim and left-wing groups.
The group is yet to lodge an official application for permission to hold the march, which must be granted by Glasgow City Council in order to legally take place. As part of the vetting process for applications, police opinion is sought and Holyrood has learned that officers from the Strathclyde Police Diversity Unit have indicated to groups opposed to the SDL that the force will oppose the application.
A spokesman for Glasgow City Council leader Stephen Purcell says the police view is considered paramount when deciding whether a parade application will be approved: “That is the case with all applications for parades, the police advice is absolutely central. We will wait for the application and ask the police for advice after that. As with all applications for parades, the police advice is taken very seriously.” The SDL insists it is not opposed to Muslims in general, only ‘extremists’ who they say want to destroy the “Christian British way of life.” However, an official statement by an SDL spokesman, obtained exclusively by Holyrood shows that the wider Muslim community is seen as a threat by the group.
According to the statement: “The Scottish Defence League has been set up by concerned citizens who see the Islamic faith as being an aggressive movement, a religion that is being forced on others within the UK. The SDL wish to state they are not anti-Muslim and normal law-abiding Muslims have nothing to fear from the SDL.
“We can see there is an underground Islamic movement throughout this nation, a movement that is preying on young impressionable Muslims and will in the future lead to further terrorist attacks and also lead to the segregation of communities and ill feeling.
Despite being called right-wing racists the SDL want to create just one community, we can see the decimation of cities in parts of England where the indigenous population have been marginalised and left to their fate of being pushed from their areas by Muslim demographics and the creation of Muslim areas.
“The Government and the forces of law are scared to address these issues, and that is why groups such as the SDL have been set up. We feel this will lead to further violence and bloodshed unless this is dealt with right away. We do not promote violence or racism, we will though make a stand against those who wish to destroy this nation from within or without.
“This goes for any organisation or movement that would promote violence and terrorism within Great Britain & Northern Ireland whether they be violent Muslims or murderous Irish republicans the SDL will make a stand for the rights of British citizens to live peacefully.” Osama Saeed, chief executive of the Scottish-Islamic Foundation said: “This gives the lie to the SDL’s defence that they are not against Muslims. To say Islam is an “aggressive movement” absurdly means they are trying to say Muslims are ok except for their religion. Their proposed presence here presents a challenge and an opportunity for Scotland. ”
The far-right menace needs to be taken on and this can only happen by all strands of Scottish society coming together to peacefully stand shoulder to shoulder. I’ve no doubt this is what we’ll see happen in response.” Both the SDL and its English counterpart have withdrawn from initial links with right-wing football supporters. The SDL statement says: “The SDL is not a group of football hooligans and although we maintain links with the English Defence League, like them we understand that the name “Casuals United” was misleading and this term is not used anymore.” However, in a development likely to prove embarrassing to Rangers Football Club, a clear link between football supporters and the SDL has been uncovered.
A Facebook group entitled “Scottish Defence League – Glasgow Rangers” that displays the official Rangers emblem is listed as having 28 members. The ‘official’ SDL Facebook group has 134 members. The group using Rangers name has a ‘casualsunited’ email address listed as its contact point.
According to Scottish Football Association and Scottish Premier League guidelines on ‘disorderly or inappropriate conduct’, signed up to by Rangers as part of their ‘Follow With Pride’ campaign, disorderly or inappropriate conduct can be defined as: “Membership or presumed membership of a religious group or social or cultural group with perceived religious affiliation.
Religious group means a group of persons defined by reference to their religious belief or lack of religious belief, membership of or adherence to a church or religious organisation, support for the culture and traditions of a church or religious organisation and/or participation in activities associated with such a culture or such traditions.” According to Rangers official policy, fans who do behave in an inappropriate manner, bringing the club into disrepute, will face limited or lifetime bans, loss of their season ticket, or arrest by the police.
Under such definitions, the openly anti-Muslim stance of the SDL would place Rangers fans associated with the SDL in clear contravention of the policy.
[Thanks to NewsHound for the heads-up]