At the weekend, two dozen English Defence League activists stormed a Muslim book stall and Qur’an exhibition in Cradley Heath in the Black Country. So much for the claim to be a non-violent protest movement. Even worse, perhaps, is that the bookstall was run by an Ahmadiyya Muslim group. The Ahmadiyya are one of the least fundamentalist or jihadist groups with Islam. They explicitly reject armed jihad, are not seen as part of the Ummah by many orthodox Muslims and indeed are regarded as kafirs (infidels) by fundamentalists. They have, therefore, been subjected to violent persecution by Islamists in Pakistan, Bangladesh and elsewhere. In other words, they are exactly who those who claim to be fighting Islamism should be in solidarity with, not attacking. This demonstrates the EDL's ignorance about its pet obsession, Islam, and also the hollowness of its claim to be against Islamism rather than ordinary Muslims. It exposes the essential racism and paranoia of the movement.
Last week, the EDL's tinpot leader, Stephen Yaxley-Lennon (aka Tommy Robinson, a name he took in honour of a Luton Town hooligan), had his appeal dismissed against his conviction for football violence in teh summer at a Newport-Luton match. "He claimed it had all been about England and Wales and that, while he may have made "sheep" insults, he had never mentioned EDL." I've got nothing against football hooliganism as a leisure pursuit amongst consenting adults, but again it gives the lie to the EDL claim to be non-violent. Yaxley-Lennon will go on trial again next month for his assault on an EDL member in Blackburn, to add to his previous form for wife-battering.
Malatesta, in usual tabloid fashion, reports on the latest damp squibs of an Infidels national demo on Leeds and an EDL Angels event in London, as well as Stephen Yaxley-Lennon’s criminal career. Malatesta portrays things as not going so well for the EDL and its split-offs, which makes for comforting reading, but I don’t feel so comfortable - more on that at the end of the post. Here's EDLNews coverage of the Angels event.
Meanwhile, what of the English Defence League’s so-called “Jewish Division”? Here is an interview with its new “leader” (which I think we can take to mean its only real member), “James Cohen”. As the previous "leaders", Brazilian Roberta Moore and Dutch non-Jew Robert Bartholomeus, have had rocky relationships with the EDL leadership (e.g. consorting with terrorist group the Jewish Task Force, praising mass murderer Anders Breivik, saying the EDL had been taken over by Nazis, joining rival and more explicitly fascist grouplet the English National Alliance), there has clearly been a search for some new blood. "Cohen" resides in that part of England quaintly named Canada and located across the Atlantic. The guy is either dishonest or idiotic on a whole number of counts: he thinks that there were hate speech laws in place in pre-war Germany that failed to stop the rise of Hitler; he thinks hate speech laws are “never, never” applied to Muslims, despite many high profile examples such as Sheikh Raed Salah, Zakir Naik or Islam4UK); he thinks sharia law is “in place” in certain parts of Britain; he thinks the EDL is a non-violent organisation (“as far as I can tell”) despite the convictions for violence of several of its leading members; he thinks Tommy Robinson, a businessman, is “a regular working class guy”, and therefore excused for hitting his wife. More interestingly, I was struck by the way he thinks the condemnation of the EDL by every single Jewish organisation in the UK shows the latter are merely “professional Jews” who are not representative or reflective of “real” Jewish opinion. He has no evidence of this, given no British Jews are involved in the “Jewish Division”. But I was struck by how this view mirrors that of Leninist vanguard parties, who think they uniquely know and represent the “real” interests of the working class, despite all evidence to the contrary. This kind of vanguardism, alongside of course the whole obsession with “leaders”, is indicative, I think, of a totalitarian mindset.
Meanwhile, in another publicity fiasco, Yaxley-Lennon got himself photographed next to QPR striker Joey Barton, and then claimed Barton had joined the EDL. Barton, not one to mince words, exposed the stunt, and added "I categorically refuse to publicly release a statement, because I refuse to raise awareness in a group of mentally deficient right wing numpties." If I remember rightly, Yaxley tried this with Jordan Price (aka glamour model Jordan) last year, but I don't remember her response as vividly!
Talking of the EDL Angels, EDL News has published screenshots of Facebook comments by a Bristol EDL member. She posted them in response to Tariq Jahan deservedly getting the Daily Mirror's Pride of Britain award, in recognition of his moving appeal for peace after the death of his son during the summer riots in Birmingham. Andrews said: "pride of BRITAIN not pride of fukin MUZZIE LAND fuking cunts... dont even fukin tell me that coz this fukizies son got killed n he gave some piss ass speach he gettin a fukin pride of britain award". Another EDL member chimed in with "shame they didnt stab that cunt or he wldnt ave been there". How’s that for a non-racist, non-violent organisation, Mr Cohen?
Another EDL Angel, teenager Charlotte Christina Davies, has been convicted, along with an older EDL man, for spray-painting the letters "EDL" and "NEI" (North East Infidels) along with the Ulster Loyalist slogan, "no surrender" and images of poppies and the St. George flag on a mosque in Hartlepool, and for persuading her 24-year-old boyfriend to smash up and graffiti Asian businesses with no Islamist connections whatsoever. The EDL, like the BNP in the early 1990s, creates the conditions which encourage race attacks to flourish.
Despite the talk of its salt-of-the-earth “regular working class guy” status from its patronising middle class defenders (like Mr Cohen), it has not more roots in any working class community than your average Leninist vanguard party. (It is, rather, a highly mobile and mainly virtual network: note Ms Davies’ geographical distance in Aylesbury from her boyfriend up North, and her incitement to violence via mobile phone; note the use of Facebook.)
But remember that the BNP had no roots in any community in 1990, but within a couple of years was getting a quarter of the white vote in some council wards and was winning councillors and MEPs a decade later. And its rise was accompanied by a wave of race attacks in the areas where it was recruiting, including the murderous attacks on Rolan Adams, Rohit Duggal and Stephen Lawrence. Now, as the BNP continues to implode, if the EDL had just a little more smarts than they seem to they could be a force to be reckoned with. The left under-estimated the BNP until it was much too late, seeing its members as brainless boneheads. We cannot afford to make the same mistake with the EDL.