Searchlight has long complained that the Home Office has failed to appreciate the threat posed by the English Defence League. It fails to classify the EDL as a far-right extremist organisation and pays little attention to it other than as a law and order issue.
Searchlight hopes that the connection between Anders Breivik and the EDL might prompt the authorities to reconsider.
The EDL began its life as a street gang opposing “militant Islam” but it quickly morphed into a more dangerous anti-Muslim organisation. It opposes all new mosques and other Islamic buildings, its slogans and chants abuse the Muslim faith and its supporters have increasingly been involved in violent attacks.
As has been demonstrated elsewhere in this magazine, it shares much of the same ideology and interpretation of the world with the Norwegian killer.
Indeed, several EDL supporters have written approvingly of the car bomb that ripped through the administrative heart of Oslo. Even its leader, Stephen Lennon, while distancing himself from the murders of young people, claimed that Breivik was articulating legitimate concerns.
“People should look at what happened in Oslo and understand that there is growing anger in Europe,” he told the press. “You suppress people’s rights you suppress people’s voices and people will just continue to go underground – but that doesn’t make the problem go away.”
The EDL is not a terrorist organisation but it could act as a conveyor belt for potential terrorists. “I think they are best viewed as a ‘gateway organisation’ to terrorism – like Hizb ut-Tahrir – and subjected to the same kind of monitoring,” says Dave Rich, of the Community Security Trust.
EDL supporters have displayed a growing militancy in recent months. Some have called for the taking up of arms while others are actively demanding a more confrontational and violent strategy.
A cursory study of the Facebook pages of EDL supporters reveals many posing with guns and other weapons.
The growing relationship between the EDL and elements within the loyalist paramilitary Ulster Defence Association should be cause for concern.
The EDL arguably presents the biggest threat to community cohesion in the UK today. Its strategy of provocative marches and physical attacks on political opponents is designed to increase tensions and divisions in communities with a large Muslim population.
Worse still, it is politicising a generation of young extremists, some of whom could go on to commit more violent acts.
It is time the Home Office reclassifies the EDL as an extremist organisation and allows the police to deploy the same manpower and resources on monitoring its activity as they would in relation to other extremist groups.
Thanks to Nick Lowles at Searchlight