In reply to this http://www.indymedia.org.uk
Yes we keep calling it a UAF protest, but they don’t really own it. Most of the people there were not UAF members, or particulay wanted to do what UAF did.
What’s sad is that i’d say 80% of people in the EDL are being used a pawns by a few far right players. After years of the mainstream media and political parties confusing Islam and Extermism these people are now doing the same. Danger is the more moderate amongst EDL will get drawn into politics of the far right.
Initially like others I felt the best tactic was to ignore them and not give them press coverage. However whatever UAF have done to give them publicity, it pales in comparison to the mainstream media. For years it’s been the government that has been all too happy to blame immigration, for the failings of capitalism. The government has pandered to the media scaremongering of radical Islam, and in doing so been happy to removes civil liberties and use it as a justification for everything from ID cards, to control orders, in an attempt to appease the press and look like they are doing something. The media’s scaremongering and the governments reactionary nature have created a climate of fear and Islamophiba. People on the streets blame Mulisms for everything from Housing problems, to lack of jobs. In response the Islamic community has become even more isolated and less integrated.
Take Birmingham, 10-15 years ago it had an integrated population, now thanks to scaremongering by the media and the establishment you have increasingly divided communities, and white flight. What the left should ideally be doing is engaged in bridging that divide, and pulling people together into positively improving their communities. Deep down people mostly want the same things after all.
In Leeds, most of the correspondence were there just in case it kicked off, as they are only interested in hyping things. Seeing the Daily mail calling them Patriots for instance, will have done far more for their cause then anything the UAF have ever done. The politics show on Sunday doing a vox pop section that suggested everyone in Barnsley supports the BNP, despite them losing the latest by-election. The Media and to some extent Labour love to hype EDL and the BNP, the former because it’s a story and the later as they use it to help bring out voters.
Yes the EDL do want to draw more people in by saying they just oppose radical Islam, but the general hatred of all Islam is rife throughout their movement. There are also numbers of far right groups moving amongst their ranks trying to exploit it. Personally though I do now think they need to be opposed on the streets. They have got too large, and if people don’t see a counter-protest then it makes their Islamaphoiba seem more justifiable. A friend said to me, “Wouldn’t it be bad if no one was protesting against them though”, – if there was no counter-protest yes it would be bad which is why I would attend a counter-protest.
If they were serious about tackling extremism, they would be working with the Islamic community, instead they are just demonizing an entire group of people in our society. Confronting the EDL is not really getting dangerous, as the anti group still outnumbers them. Seriously now I think there are going to be so much police at these events that there is not much chance of the protests meeting. The bigger worry, and the fear the establishment has is that it could spark race riots. You have to think if UAF are not going to be there then won’t the Asian youth be out there on their own? Isn’t it better that Asian youth are drawn into a wider unity protest, rather than thinking it’s just a them and us thing and that all English people hate them? At least UAF is bringing people together and preventing it becoming just an England vs Islam dichotomy.
You have to bear in mind not confronting them, as in Luton is equally dangerous, as they turned to trashing Asian cars and shops, which again could trigger a race riot. If they are they on the their own, the police might even let them march, whereas if there are two big protest then they will as in Leeds just keep people in separate pens.
What the left is failing to do is unite people in social struggle, the absence of people getting to grips with the real causes of problems Islam will be an easy excuse for problems. I think we need action groups where the left brings communities together to tackle problems together. As I said a day of UAF et all teaming up to pick up litter on an estate with a press line about the real problems being economic depravation caused by the failings of capitalism is going to do more good then shouting Nazi Scum. Sadly though this is a good tool for the SWP to recruit people, and boring stuff that works like tackling bread and butter issues isn’t.
A lot of the far right think EDL is a state setup to dilute their white supremacist cause (yes they are that paranoid), Other far right and some BNP think it’s a good recruiting tool.
A sizeable majority of the EDL hate the far-right as they think they are trying to get them all labelled as Nazi by turning up at their protests in an attempt to discredit them because they are non-racist and not homophobic. Then of course there are plenty of supporters of the far-right amongst the EDL’s ranks and we have to be watching them like hawks to ensure they are not really just a front (or Trojan horse), or to ensure that far-right are unable to turn them into one.
If the grouping within EDL that are genuinely anti-fash start turning against these nutters at their demos then it puts UAF and Antifa in a situation where they need to reconsider things. Already there is one fight where EDL have turned against the fash. Perhaps it’s actually possible to work with some factions within EDL against the extermist elements?
Really part of the long term strategic problem is that UAF should be tackling Islamic extremism too, if it had done earlier then EDL probably never would have formed and more working class people could have been brought into a class struggle rather than the arms of the BNP and facist ideology. Yes of course the state has hyped the threat, and used it to justify illegal wars and crackdowns on our rights and it seems naturally to oppose this spin. However maybe in denying to recognize there is a problem and offering our own solution we have simply allowed people to drift into the arms of the BNP, and fash. We need a more sophisticated message of condeming Islamic extermism, and the demonisation of Islam, and the justification of a fight against extermism to remove our liberty, and provide cover for resource wars.
Maybe its possible that EDL will become are more moderate organization, possibly the left needs to do more to reach out to members within EDL and drag them back from the influence of the far-right. General anti-Muslim feeling is again rife amongst their ranks, but not with everyone. Again I think some left-wing groups need to be educating EDL members, after all we should be against all forms of extremism including Islamic
It’s rumoured EDL are going to be putting out a statement about working with moderate Muslims, which could make things very interesting if they try to turn down the general anti-Muslim vibes they are giving off. Some also realize their whole Crusade imagery is rather problematic, and the wrong way of going about things.
What we have to realize, is just as the left is a fractured spectrum, so too is the EDL. Not all EDL are Nazi scum, and we should be intervening to reach out to these people and bring them into a united class struggle against extremism, and the real underlying problems such as break down in communities, housing and poor resource allocation.