February 04, 2011

EDL protest attracts European far-right activists

English Defence League protests are attracting an increasing number of young people.
Photograph: KeystoneUSA-Zuma/Rex Features

Up to 7,000 due in Luton for English Defence League rally, as anti-racist and Muslim groups prepare counter-demonstrations

Far-right activists from across Europe will join thousands of English Defence League supporters tomorrow for the biggest rally in the group's 20-month history.
Police expect up to 7,000 demonstrators will descend on Luton, the Bedfordshire town where the EDL started in spring 2009, amid evidence of the group's growing influence among young people. The organisation has staged more than 30 protests since it was formed, many of which have been marred by Islamophobia, racism and violence.

This rally will see more than more than 25 coaches transport members to Luton from across the UK, with thousands more activists due to make their way by car or train. One EDL activist said 800 far-right supporters would be meeting at Kings Cross train station in London before travelling north. UK-based members will be joined by activists from recently formed copycat "defence leagues" in Norway, Sweden and the Netherlands – as well as supporters of more established far-right groups from France, Germany and Denmark.

Nick Lowles, from the anti-racist campaign group Hope not Hate, said the presence of these groups underlined the EDL's growing international links.

"The significance of the EDL marching in Luton extends way beyond our shores," said Lowles. "Across Europe and in North America anti-Islamic groups are watching the EDL with interest, increasingly copying their tactics, even replicating their name. The attendance of so many international supporters is testament to the EDL's role in the international anti-Islam movement."

There is widespread fear of disorder during the rally and the Bedfordshire police force is planning its biggest operation, with 2,000 officers on duty and hundreds more on standby. It is expected to cost more than £800,000.

The demonstration comes amid concern that the EDL is attracting young people into extreme racist, nationalist and Islamophobic politics. The group now has 70,000 followers on its Facebook site.

Luton youth worker Mohsin Malik, who works with young people up to the age of 18, said he could detect the group's influence in the town.

"No one comes out and says 'I'm an EDL member' but the telltale signs are there," he said. "It comes out in the arguments that they make – the idea that social minorities get priority in social housing, that the police are scared to stop and search Asians."

Malik said the group was specifically targeting teenagers and young people.

"For some of the young people I work with the EDL are very appealing – people like street cred. When you're young you want people to respect you and this is one way of gaining respect. There are some kids who are being manipulated – they think they're the big guns."

Sam Adofo, the director of the Salmon youth centre in Southwark, south London, echoed this view.

"People who say the EDL are stupid are naive ... The way they are targeting youth now is extremely strategic, and it's working for them. They've tried to be inclusive and add young people to the whole idea of what it is … The techniques they are using are the basics – interacting with the working class, meeting in the pub, watching the games. It gives young people a sense of belonging that is key."

Keith Vaz, chair of the home affairs select committee, called on politicians to take the EDL threat seriously.

"The government really needs to find out why young people in particular are turning to the far right for answers," he said. "Whether it is because of the recession and unemployment, social problems within their community or a general disillusionment with politics, we cannot afford to lose people to a group that is so prejudiced against the idea of a multicultural Britain."

Anti-racism campaigners are holding a counter-demonstration in a separate part of Luton. Unite Against Fascism, which is organising the event, says it expects thousands of supporters to travel from across the country. A separate event is being organised by sections of Luton's Muslim community.

The town has had links to Muslim extremism in the past. In December, it emerged that Taimour Abdulwahab al-Abdaly, an Iraqi-born Swede who set off a car bomb in Stockholm before killing himself with a second device, had spent time in the town. But community leaders claim it is being unfairly stigmatised and warn that the EDL is increasing tensions in the town.

"This group is having a severe impact on the people of Luton," said Fiyaz Mughal, the director of Faith Matters who co-authored a report on the EDL last year. "The tensions between communities are rising and fractures are starting to appear. The Muslim community is under real pressure and feels it is being persecuted and becoming the main target for the EDL."

The far-right group was formed after a small number of protesters from an extremist Muslim group held up placards at the homecoming of the 2nd Battalion, Royal Anglian Regiment in Luton, reading "Butchers of Basra" and "Anglian soldiers go to hell". At a subsequent protest scores of EDL supporters attacked Asian businesses, smashed cars and threatened passersby.

The group has "divisions" across the country and its leadership insists it is not violent or racist, opposed only to what it describes as radical or militant Islam. However, many of its demonstrations have descended into violence and racist chanting. Some of its supporters are extreme far-right activists and football hooligans.

The Guardian


Alfie North said...

To think, as we enter 2011 (the 21st Century), communal violence, the sort we haven't seen since the 30's, when there was a wave of attacks on Jewish people and their places of worship, is about to descend on our communities. Not only that, but any organisations who organise against these alienated youth and their violent, thuggish tactics are also likely to be met with similar violence and intimidation. Thankyou Yaxley-Lennon, who ironically makes his money out of making white people brown, selling crap merchandise to any old mug who buys this tat and allegedly grassing to the old bill. May you get your own Karma. You deserve it sunshine.

Anonymous said...

Thankyou Yaxley-Lennon

See that Newsnight interview with Paxman? Lennon claimed he was a non-political, normal guy who had never got involved in anything before he was 'forced' to start up the EDL. Strange then how he appears in photo, from about 4 years ago, of a BNP branch meeting alongside Richard Edmonds.

Paxman didn't challenge him on that and seemed clueless throughout the interview. Paxman's good when interviewing Tory, Liberal or Labour people but hasn't a clue about street politics.

Anonymous said...

"Paxman's good when interviewing Tory, Liberal or Labour people but hasn't a clue about street politics." - That's because Paxo's very much a lazy establishment hack.

NewsHound said...



Anonymous said...

The BBC always give fascist leaders (both elected and non-elected) free publicity.

Shame on them!

Anonymous said...

Funny why English nationalists still hide behind the union jack as well as the saint george flag!

NewsHound said...



Freddie Fingered said...

It is remarkable why gullable EDL supporters swallow supergrass Yaxley Lennon's fabricated press release "martyr" games, and don't think twice when each time he is arrested, he is always let off and all charges are dropped.

It truly goes to show you msut be thick as two short planks to be a British fascist.

No wander Dick Gri££in always got away with fuckin' murder!

Anonymous said...

"Some of its supporters are extreme far-right activists and football hooligans."
Wouldn't it be more accurate to say a few of them aren't?

Anti Nazi Andy said...

EDL white power band Alex and the Bandits must be a right shitty band to know they will always be shunned by the entire professional music scene much like Skrewdriver, the only place where these mugs play being traditional BNP boozers where the regulars have beer bellies and shaved heads.

Their singing abilities are even more shittier than Skrewdriver which explains why they are second-rate dropouts!

Anonymous said...

"The BBC always give fascist leaders (both elected and non-elected) free publicity."

What this guy said. The BBC, and for that matter much of the mainstream media (e.g. Daily Mail, etc.) implicitly support the far-right.

Watching the Paxman interview, it was clear to me that Paxman was reinforcing far-right ideas while pretending to argue against them. When Robinson talked about Muslim gangs, Paxman talked about white gangs. This plants inside the viewer's head that "white" and "Muslim" are mutually exclusive categories and that Islam is something inherently "non-white", which is the exact racial "us-vs-them" mentality that the far-right wants to push. In fact Islam is inclusive of all races, and there are hundreds of thousands of white Muslims in the country.

Anonymous said...

The motherf*ckin Daily Star is once again bigging up the EDL, the bastards!


Does Richard Desmond support Pamela Geller?

Anti-Racist said...

Alan Lake's EDL Final Solution

(chilling!!! a must-read!!!)


NewsHound said...



Anonymous said...

"Their singing abilities are even more shittier than Skrewdriver which explains why they are second-rate dropouts!"

The bandits can't even handle basic melodies, the nazi music bastards.

m said...

Yaxley Lennon doesn't just make money from EDL merchandise. They also make money from the Bandits, pocketing most of the takings, but who the fuck cares?

EDLers are thick as pig shite!

Alfie North said...

I'm just a "simple guy" said the man who has been convicted of assaulting a police officer during a domestic at his home. Then there's his partner, hiding a couple of bags of cocaine so her parents wouldn't find them. Not only simple, but also a coke fuelled idiot. Any grass in that hiding place Lennon? Unlike his namesake he won't be singing: 'All we are saying is give peace a chance.' in Luton that's for sure. This Lennon piece is more apt:
"Instant Karma's gonna get you,
Gonna knock you right on the head,
You better get yourself together,
Pretty soon you're gonna be dead,
What in the world you thinking of,
Laughing in the face of love,
What on earth you tryin' to do,
It's up to you, yeah you."