Wednesday, May 25 2016

EDL supporter to be sacked from Army

Following reports last week on the sentencing of a group of EDL supporters for attacking individuals gathered in a pub which was hosting an anti-racism concert, The Star on Sunday reports that a soldier who was among those involved in the attack, and whose connections to the English Defence League were being investigated by the Ministry of Defence, is to be discharged from his post.

From the paper:

“A soldier who smashed up an anti-racism event with his English Defence League pals is set to be kicked out of the Army.

“Cavan Langfield, 18, and a gang of mates stormed a Rock Against Racism gig in Leeds last year.

“Langfield, from the Yorkshire Regiment, and eight other members of the gang were convicted at Leeds Crown Court last week.

“A source at the Ministry of Defence said: “The wheels are in motion to get him thrown out. That’s a whole promising career up in flames.”

“A spokesman for the MoD said: “All those who are found to fall short of the Army’s high standards or who are found to have committed an offence under the Armed Forces Act are dealt with administratively (up to and including discharge) or through the discipline process, as appropriate.”

A report published by the Institute for Race Relations this year highlighted how far right organisations have exploited the frustrations of soldiers returning from wars abroad. This is evident, for example, in the fact that the EDL- the most significant anti-Muslim far right movement in the UK - has an ‘armed forces division’. It was in fact a protest held by a fringe Muslim groups in Luton at a parade for a returning Regiment that prompted the birth of the EDL. Stephen Lennon, its founder, is from Luton.

The MoD’s stance on the standards required for armed service, and its handling of the case involving Langfield is commendable, though one has to wonder at the apparent limitations of the Army’s code of standards. One could argue that the MoD has shown implicit support for those who inspire the EDL’s anti-Muslim narrative in its association with Islamophobic personalities- notably Dr. Patrick Sookhdeo, who is involved in programmes supervised and run by the MoD. The involvement with the army of someone who has made statements such as “everything about the West is inimical to Islam” and “we are faced in Great Britain with an Islamic Britain”, no doubt prompts fears about the susceptibility of servicemen to far right anti-Muslim groups, as the ideas that animate them are freely advocated within the MoD.

The MoD should take action to ensure that its policy on far-right intolerance and extremism is consistent across the board.

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