Anti-fascists must challenge Islamists to undermine the EDL
Protest against the EDL this Saturday, 7 September, East London
London, UK – 6 September 2013
The Peter Tatchell Foundation (PTF) is supporting this Saturday’s 7 September protest against the English Defence League’s attempt to march through the Muslim heart of Tower Hamlets in East London.
Saturday’s anti-EDL protest is organised by Unite Against Fascism (UAF). It is assembling at 11am in Altab Ali Park, Whitechapel Road, London E1. INFO: http://bit.ly/19hQgo1
We are not joining the protest until 1pm. The EDL march is unlikely to arrive before 2pm or 3pm.
“As democrats, we do not support a police ban on the EDL. But we do support a peaceful mass ‘people power’ counter-protest to block their way. They shall not pass,” said Peter Tatchell, Director of the human rights organisation, the Peter Tatchell Foundation.
“We have some differences with UAF. They refuse to oppose the EDL’s political mirror image, the far right Islamist extremists who endorse terrorist attacks on civilians and who oppose the rights of women, Jews, LGBT people and Muslims who don’t conform to their hard-line interpretation of Islam. These religious extremists espouse a form of clerical fascism. They are as bad as – or worse than – the EDL.
“The EDL claims it is against only Islamist fundamentalism and that it is not against Muslims per se. However, in reality, its supporters often demonise all Muslim people and usually make no distinction between extreme Islamists who want to establish a theocratic dictatorship, and the general Muslim population who support democracy and human rights.
“The failure of many anti-fascists and left-wingers to speak out against Islamist fundamentalists has created a political vacuum, which the EDL is seeking to exploit and manipulate.
“To be credible and effective, opponents of the EDL need to be consistent by also taking a stand against the Islamist far right. Only in this way can we offer a principled alternative to the EDL, in a manner that isolates and targets the extremists without demonising the whole Muslim population,” said Mr Tatchell.
His PTF colleague, Pliny Soocoormanee, added:
“Despite the UAF’s shortcomings, we support their protest because otherwise the EDL would have a free hand to march unopposed.
“That’s why the PTF is joining Saturday’s protest. But we’ll also highlight the issues the UAF won’t address: the threat from far right Islamists.
“In addition, we want to promote unity and solidarity across communities. We are urging: Gays and Muslims Unite! Fight All Hate!
“LGBT and Muslim people have a common experience of prejudice, discrimination violence. Some people are both LGBT and Muslim. They often suffer double victimisation.
“It is in the interests of Muslim and LGBT people to work together to defend equality for everyone and to oppose both the EDL and Islamists who preach hate and oppose human rights.
“The EDL and Islamist extremists are misguided with their hatred and phobias. We hope that in the future they will embrace reason and compassion. In the meantime, join us to oppose the EDL and Islamist extremism,” urged Mr Soocoormanee.
There have been a series of violent attacks on Muslim targets in the last three months, most recently an apparent arson attack upon Harlow Islamic Centre in Essex on 26 August. In June, a Muswell Hill mosque and community centre were burned down and the letters ‘EDL’ were found painted on the walls. In July, three mosques in the West Midlands were subjected to bomb attacks shortly before the EDL’s Birmingham demo.
The EDL is a bigoted, demagogic right-wing populist movement. It includes former members of the neo-fascist National Front (NF) and British National Party (BNP).
Many of its supporters are racists and football hooligans. See this Guardian expose:
Others have criminal convictions and have engaged in violent attacks on minority communities. Read this Unite Against Fascism (UAF) dossier on the EDL:
Most EDL protests descend into thuggery and mob violence.