Today’s edition of the Guardian features a front page story investigating the rise of the English Defence League and its plans to cause mayhem in areas with significant Muslim populations such as Bradford and Tower Hamlets later this summer.
The EDL have staged a number of demonstrations over the past year which have ostensibly been to protest against ‘Muslim extremists’ but which have very quickly and predictably descended into general anti-Muslim bigotry and violence.
Today’s report contains a quote from Matthew Goodwin, an academic from Manchester University discussing the difference between the EDL and previous far right movements:
“The reason why the EDL’s adoption of Islamophobia is particularly significant is that unlike the 1970s, when the National Front was embracing antisemitism, there are now sections of the media and the British establishment that are relatively sympathetic towards Islamophobia,” says Goodwin. “It is not difficult to look through the media and find quite hostile views towards Islam and Muslims. That is fundamentally different to the 1970s, when very few newspapers or politicians were endorsing the NF’s antisemitic message.”
“The point for your average voter is that if they see the EDL marching through their streets shouting about how the neighbourhood is about to be swamped by Muslims or how the UK is going to be Islamified by 2040, they are also receiving these cues from other sections of British society … the message of the EDL may well be legitimised if that continues.”
Goodwin’s observation is bang on target.
The former Labour government banned the moronic group al-Muhajiroun and the present Conservative-led government is on record as wanting to ban Hizb ut-Tahrir. I disagree with banning either group – as long as they do not break the law they should be allowed to spout as much nonsense as they wish – but more interesting is the fact neither the Tories nor the Labour party are on record calling for a ban on the far larger and far more violent EDL.