| ||Police are reported to be mounting their largest operation yet in order to try to prevent violence at tomorrow’s march in Luton by far right extremists, the English Defence League (EDL). Previous EDL marches have been accompanied by violence and rabid Islamophobia.|
The Guardian reports today however that tomorrow’s march will see far right Islamophobes from across Europe join the EDL, highlighting the coming together of various anti-Muslim vanguards from across the continent. Their article states:
“UK-based members will be joined by activists from recently formed copycat ‘defence leagues’ in Norway, Sweden and the Netherlands – as well as supporters of more established far-right groups from France, Germany and Denmark.
“‘The significance of the EDL marching in Luton extends way beyond our shores,’ said Lowles. ‘Across Europe and in North America anti-Islamic groups are watching the EDL with interest, increasingly copying their tactics, even replicating their name. The attendance of so many international supporters is testament to the EDL's role in the international anti-Islam movement.’”
Previous reports highlighted the attempts by the EDL to forge links with other anti-Muslim and anti-Islamic groups in America and Europe, as well as the rise of populist anti-immigrant politics in Europe to the extent that such parties are now propping up European governments. Across Europe, the anti-immigration and xenophobic views have found expression in the targeting of the Muslim community.
Among the results of this has been increased violence and intimidation of Muslims across Europe.
That the EDL finds support from these groups and is once again set to deliver its Islamophobic message to the streets of Britain does not bode well for those attempting to tackle the growing naturalisation of Islamophobia in Britain.
The Guardian also reports the concerns of, among others, Keith Vaz (Chair of the home affairs select committee), who called on politicians to take the threat of the EDL seriously. He is reported to have said:
"The government really needs to find out why young people in particular are turning to the far right for answers." "Whether it is because of the recession and unemployment, social problems within their community or a general disillusionment with politics, we cannot afford to lose people to a group that is so prejudiced against the idea of a multicultural Britain."
In January, David Cameron talked of the need to “drain the water from the swamp in which the violent extremism grows” and his growing conviction of the need to tackle extremism, not just violent extremism.
He was referring to Muslims but he should not be blind to the violent extremism of the EDL and its supporters, which has been on display many times before.
For the likes of the EDL and other far right extremists, the swamp from which their violent extremism grows is Islamophobia itself. This swamp is fed by a culture in which having ‘a pop at the British Muslim community’ is ‘fair game’.
As Keith Vaz pointed out, young people are increasingly being drawn in to the far right’s web of extremism and it is imperative that the government find an answer and respond to the threat posed by far right extremists like the EDL.
A counter demonstration against the EDL and its supporters has been organized for tomorrow by ‘United Against Fascism’ – the details of which you can find here.
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