Saturday, September 12, 2009

Riot police called in as demonstrators clash at anti-Muslim protest.

They chose the anniversary of 9-11 as the day to have their protest, which was disturbing enough. 9-11 is usually a day of quiet contemplation, not protest.

And what were they protesting about? One would imagine that perhaps they would choose such a day to protest against terrorism in general, that they would highlight the unfairness of targeting civilians in any conflict, but they didn't.

Instead, a group identifying themselves as the English Defence League chose the anniversary of 9-11 to protest against Islam.

Three months ago, no one had heard of the EDL. But the organisation has risen to prominence in a spate of civil unrest in which far-right activists, football hooligans and known racists have fought running battles with Asian youths. The leadership insists they are not racist and just want to "peacefully protest against militant Islam".

Yet at EDL events, skinheads have raised Nazi salutes and other EDL supporters have chanted racist slogans such as "I hate Pakis more than you". One protest in Luton in May ended with scores of people attacking Asian businesses, smashing cars and threatening passersby.

Insiders have talked of plans to enlist football fans to march for the cause on the basis that "you need an army for a war".

It can hardly be a surprise to anyone that their protest yesterday was met with an overwhelming response from the Asian community.

Anti-Islamic protesters had to be sheltered by riot police who formed a cordon round them and rescued one from a beating after he was caught and set upon by a crowd of Asian youths. As police protected the men, further violence broke out when a number of masked protesters started hurling bottles, rocks and fireworks at officers. The masked youths ignored pleas by a larger crowd of Muslims who urged them to keep the protests peaceful.
I can't imagine anything more offensive than an anti-Jewish or an anti-Catholic rally taking place in Harrow, and yet these thugs thought they could take part in an anti-Islam rally and that this would not provoke a very strong response?

During the days when Britain was being bombed by the IRA I never once heard the term "militant Catholicism", which is why I suppose the Muslim community have a point when they object to phrases like "militant Islam". Why is there this need to imply that an entire religion is responsible for the acts of a few of it's followers?

John Denham, the Communities Secretary, compared the protests organised by groups such as the English Defence league to the rise of Oswald Moseley's blackshirts in the 1930s and its role in provoking violent street fights, particularly the Battle of Cable Street in 1936.

He made his comments in a newspaper interview as he unveiled government plans to tackle the problem of alienation felt by white, working class people leading to them being exploited by far-right groups.

The English Defence League will no doubt see what took place yesterday as proof of one of their strongest fears:

The small group of white men who were protected by the police from the mob were largely reluctant to speak. One, who said he was from Middlesex but declined to give his name, simply stated: "We've become a minority in our own country."

And they have, but not for the reasons they imagine. They are a minority in their own country because the rest of the country have the good sense to make a distinction between a religion and members of that religion who engage in terrorism.

Stop the Islamisation of Europe, which boasts 2,300 supporters on its Facebook page, is inspired by a right-wing group in Denmark of the same name who have held regular protests outside mosques ever since cartoons depicting the Prophet Muhammad appeared in a newspaper sparking riots across the Muslim world.

Unlike far-right groups such as the British National Party, which campaigns on an anti-immigration ticket, the EDL and SOIE have concentrated on campaigning against Islam.

These people are preaching hatred, pure and simple. And it is a testament to how isolated their point of view is that, each time they take to the streets, they are vastly outnumbered by Asians protesting against their vile message.

The tragedy here is that, in their sick minds, they will take that fact as proof of the rightness of their cause, rather than an indication of just how offensive they are being.

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