Protest against the EDL. Defend the Muslim community

Gays & Muslims unite. Stop the far right
Anti-fascists must challenge the Islamist right to undermine the EDL

Ban on all marches is an attack on the right to protest



“I urge everyone to support this Saturday’s protest against the far right English Defence League (EDL), as it attempts to threaten and intimidate the Muslim community in Tower Hamlets,” said human rights campaigner Peter Tatchell.

The anti-EDL demonstration assembles at 11am on Whitechapel Road by the corner with Vallance Road, London E1 (by Whitechapel tube station), on Saturday 3 September.

“I will be there with a placard reading: ‘Gays & Muslims UNITE! Stop the EDL,’” added Mr Tatchell.

“Although the EDL has been banned from marching, it is planning to hold a static demonstration and EDL activists may attempt to victimise Muslim, Asian and Black people and businesses, as they have in other towns and cities.

“It is important that we stand in solidarity with the Muslim community in Tower Hamlets against the far right. They shall not pass.

“The people who are calling for the anti-EDL protest to be called off are mistaken. In the absence of a visible counter-protest, the EDL would be able to rally unchallenged and claim a victory. It would send the wrong signal if the EDL was permitted to claim any part of East London as their own.

“A mass peaceful protest against the EDL is vital to show that our communities are united in solidarity and that we will not be divided by the hate-mongering of the far right.

“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.

“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 (people who want to establish a theocratic tyranny) and the general Muslim population (who support democracy and human rights).

“At the request of the Metropolitan Police, the Home Secretary is seeking to stop the EDL by banning all marches in five London boroughs and the City of London for 30 days. This blanket ban is a draconian attack on civil liberties. It means that the planned anti-EDL march and other legitimate marches are also banned. In effect, the government has restricted the right to protest in large parts of London.

“Unlike the EDL, the anti-EDL protests do not threaten or vilify any community. To equate the EDL and the anti-EDL protests is flawed and irresponsible.

“Islamist fundamentalists mirror the right-wing ideology of the BNP and EDL. In fact, they are far worse. They want to establish a religious dictatorship, ban trade unions and political parties and deny women equal human rights. They endorse hatred and violence against Jewish, Hindu and lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people. Muslims who do not conform to their harsh interpretation of Islam are harassed and threatened. They support terrorism and the suicide bombing of innocent civilians. Not even the BNP and EDL are this extreme.

“The failure of anti-fascists and the left 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 this way can we offer a principled alternative to the EDL, which isolates and targets the extremists without demonising the whole Muslim population,” said Mr Tatchell.