Interview with Suzette Bronkhorst, General Manager of the Internet Center for Anti-Racism in Europe
Last time we talked we discussed the tactics used by neo-Nazi groups. One of them was provocation. Can you tell our listeners about the choice of the location for the demonstration by the English Defense League (EDL) in Britain?
They went to Tower Hamlets. There is a big mosque there. Actually, the Ministry for the Interior [?] forbade marches for 30 days, so they organized what is called a “static” demonstration – they were standing still. It couldn’t be forbidden. But a thousand people turned up and 3,000 policemen at the other side, opposing demonstrations, that stood near the mosque to protect it. They were with 1,500 people. And a riot broke out between the police and EDL. The funny thing that happened in England is that Scotland Yard have been accused of underestimating the threat from EDL, because the head of the unit monitoring hate groups declared it’s not an extremist organization, because he looked at their website and said it was not extreme. But they did after all deem it necessary to invite 3,000 policemen to keep a group of a thousand people down. That’s strange. But Breivik shouldn’t work in favour of EDL.
I think after the Breivik tragedy they got a lot of press attention. They wouldn’t have got otherwise.
Yes, but if you get attention like being involved into a huge terrorist attack, that wouldn’t be in your favor, would it?
No, it wouldn’t. And I think maybe their activities had quieted down a little bit. So, I was surprised to hear that they were still holding big demonstration.
I’m sorry to say but this is a kind of vermin and they never quiet down.
Was there a special reason why they chose this day, in particular? Neo-Nazi groups love to play with numbers, dates and stuff.
No, not that I can see. They just want to keep their momentum of demonstrations going, I guess. In Britain, they have a lot of opposition from the state that tries to stop demonstrations because of public order, or to be precise disorder. Then, of course, they started to talk about freedom of speech.
Was there any connection between the last time we talked and now when there were huge riots in Great Britain? Was EDL involved in those extensively, with football fans etc?
As far as I can see, the rioting that went on was a strange mix of things because there were a lot of just ordinary looters. But it started, of course, at a black man getting shot by the police. So, there were a lot of things at the same time. And it’s not in particular EDL. What they did do is they started these neighborhood watch patrols.
The EDL did?
Yes, although they didn’t announce it like that. If you would see those neighborhood watch groups walking through the streets and what they were saying – they were definitely part of it.
They tried to pretend to be like Citizens Vigilante group or something?
Yes, to protect the streets.
Not so strange. It’s actually quite smart, if you can control the people that are in these Vigilante groups.
It’s just strange that this group would be allowed to do that.
Well, they are not allowed – they do it, so what are you going to do.
Do the events in London have any relationship to the events that happened a few hours ago in Dortmund, Germany?
No, the rioting in Dortmund has no connection to the demonstration in London. The problem was that Dortmund police tried to keep the opposing demonstration, the counter-demonstration and the neo-Nazi apart, and that didn’t work out.
How accurate do you think are reports that anti-Nazi demonstrators attacked the police?
The anti-Nazi? They didn’t. Actually, the neo-Nazi did. As it’s called in the media, the left-wing protesters. I don’t know why anti-racism or anti-fascism has to be left-wing.
They broke through the barriers?
That was separating the two groups. Then a scuffle broke out, in which a police officer was seriously injured, because they stood in between the two groups.
I was alarmed to see that the two events happened so closely together in two different European cities. Have you picked up anything on your radar about any further activities or protests like this in Europe in the near future?
No. EDL is planning more marching in Great Britain. But there is a lot of going on in Europe, which is very concerning, I think.
Could you give us some examples?
With the whole atmosphere of groups standing opposite each other, the extreme right wing that moves up in politics, the intolerance – it’s very extreme, very worrisome.
Oh, yes. And they are getting into political power now more and more in several countries.
Is there anything people can do to prevent it?
These groups and political parties just come out with what is wrong with the country but they never come with solutions. And therefore it’s like “it’s a war against Islam!” or “a war against the Roma,” war guns writing non-democratic measures.
But they have no intelligent solution to anything, right?
They have no solution. Period.
So, you don’t see anything happening in Europe in the near future. What about the upcoming anniversary of September 11 events in the US? Are neo-Nazi groups in Europe or anywhere that you know planning events for that date?
Yes, in the US, a lot. Probably, in Europe, you will have some activity, because it’s always a good opportunity to bash some more Muslims.
Voice of Russia
Thanks to I-CARE for the heads-up