The Observer covers a Chatham House report to be launched this week on an audit of attitudes among Britain’s far-right extremists which shows 'significant support' for planned violent attacks.
From The Observer:
“Significant numbers of far-right supporters in the UK consider violence and "armed conflict" a legitimate form of political expression, experts will warn this week.
“The first audit into the attitudes and beliefs of Britain's rightwing extremists, collated in a report by the thinktank Chatham House, will reveal that there is a "significant level of support" for planned violent attacks.
“The report, which polled 2,152 far-right supporters, raises concerns that the path of extremism followed by Breivik, from membership of a mainstream rightwing party to far-right terrorist, should be recognised as a possibility for UK counterparts.
“Matthew Goodwin, an associate fellow of Chatham House and the University of Nottingham, said there was a danger that supporters of the English Defence League (EDL), which had links to Breivik, could be tempted to become more militant. "Perhaps some might feel that more direct, more violent strategies are the way forward."
Referring to the Norway massacre which took place in July last year, the article adds that, “Next month the trial will begin of Anders Behring Breivik, the far-right extremist who has confessed to the murder of 77 people in Norway last July. Breivik, an Islamophobe, said he carried out the attacks on Utoya Island and Oslo to help protect Europe from a "Muslim takeover".
Commenting on the international far-right demonstration planned in Aarhus, Denmark this month, Goodwin is quoted in the article as stating, "If the EDL links up with similar organisations in Germany and central and eastern Europe, that is quite worrying. Many of the grassroots groups in Germany are often called 'autonomous nationalists', but are very, very closely networked with neo-Nazi groups and organisations that engage quite openly in violence."
Previous reports on the EDL include one by Matthew Goodwin for Chatham House on far right movements across Europe, ‘Right Response: Understanding and Countering Populist Extremism in Europe'; Demos published a report looking at the social media dimension of the EDL, ‘Inside the EDL: Populist politics in a digital age'; and researchers at Northampton university authored a report titled 'The EDL: Britain’s “New Far Right” Social Movement'. All the reports refer to the EDL’s “politics of hate” and their target group “Asian Muslims in Britain”.
The audit on far right attitudes towards violence is significant given that EDL members and supporters have been implicated in acts of violence such as attacks on mosques and Muslim individuals.
During an EDL demonstration in Tower Hamlets last September, Stephen Lennon, leader of the EDL threatened British Muslims saying, “…every single Muslim watching this video on YouTube, on 7/7 you got away with killing and maiming British citizens…the Islamic community will feel the full force of the EDL if we see any of our citizens killed, maimed or hurt on British soil ever again.”
In the Channel 4 documentary, Proud and Prejudiced, Lennon is seen joking about the attacks in Norway and saying to an Asian security officer "I'm from Norway and I'll shoot you."
More information on the Chatham House event where the report will be launched, ‘From Voting to Violence? New Evidence on Far Right Supporters’, can be found here.
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