Channel 4 on Monday broadcast the programme ‘Proud and Prejudiced’ featuring Stephen Lennon (aka Tommy Robinson), the leader of the English Defence League and Sayful Islam, a man whose exploits include abusing British soldiers and burning poppies on Remembrance Sunday. Both men hail from Luton.
The documentary charts the birth and evolution of both men and their respective groups of extremists. It gives insights into the provocative demonstrations carried out by the EDL and Muslims Against Crusades and profiles the men who lead these socially divisive movements.
Writing in the Daily Telegraph, Paul Woolwich, the executive producer of the documentary explains the football hooligan roots of the EDL,
“You can’t understand the EDL without understanding football culture. Just like England away matches, the EDL rallies that Tommy has organized across the country are a chance for competing hooligan firms to put aside their differences and unite in hatred of one common enemy. In international football tournaments, it’s the Germans; at EDL rallies, it’s Islam. And with the notoriously well-organized hierarchies associated with football firms, Tommy has found himself with a ready-made army of followers, with a songbook of easily adaptable chants (“You’re not English anymore”, “No surrender to the Taliban”) who are ready to jump on coaches on a Saturday to travel half way across the country for a piss-up and a ruck.”
The mutually reinforcing cycle of provocation, ignorance and bravado played out by the two men and their movements is cogently captured in Woolwich’s reflection on the irony of the symmetry:
“Despite being sworn enemies, the way Tommy and Sayful see the world is actually remarkably similar. Both believe the implementation of Sharia law in the UK is imminent (it’s not) and that Islam and the West are locked in a centuries-old battle for supremacy. Both men inhabit the same fantasy world, where a medieval clash of civilizations is being played out day-to-day on the streets of modern-day Luton.”
If you missed the broadcast last night, ‘Proud and Prejudiced’ is available to view on 4od (follow the link here) for one month.
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