Christian Action Network meets the English Defence League
Richard Bartholomew printable version print page     Bookmark and Share
Sat Sep 05, 2009 at 04:21:00 AM EST
PhotobucketLast month, Martin Mawyer and Jason Campbell of the Christian Action Network visited the UK with Robert Spencer to meet up with various self-styled "anti-Islamist" pundits and activists in England. Mawyer - a former editor of Jerry Falwell's Moral Majority Report - was previously known for his virulent anti-gay activism, publicising the rumour that Hilary Clinton is a lesbian and the idea that gay-friendly days at Disney World are evidence that gays are "after our children". More recently, however, he has focused on Islam, publicising supposed jihadi training camps across the USA, which he claims have unspecified weapons of mass destruction.

His visit to England included an interview with three balaclava-wearing men who represent the leadership of the "English Defence League". The EDL came into existence only recently; its originators include some former football hooligans and a British man who briefly became a "free speech martyr" among American conservatives when he was investigated for incitement over his blog, only to be repudiated when his qualified support for the British National Party came to light.

The EDL has been at pains to stress that it is non-racist and opposed to Islamic extremism. However, its website states that "we are the infidels", suggesting animus against all Muslims, and far-right elements have shown up at protests held by the group in Luton and Birmingham. The group's website was set up by a BNP activist, and Paul Ray - who was a leading figure in directing football supporters' "firms" into "anti-extremist" protests - maintains that the BNP's racism is residual and that God is in the process of guiding it into a non-racial nationalism.

Ray's pro-BNP views meant that American conservatives such as Phyllis Chesler, who had initially championed him after his arrest last year, quickly dropped him (although Pamela Geller remains supportive). A bitter feud with Charles Johnson of Little Green Footballs followed, with Ray accusing Johnson of being "the equivalent of a Second World War Nazi collaborator who would have been shot because of his treason". Ray has also appeared on an American radio station claiming that the word "Paki" is just a neutral term like "Brit" or "Aussie", and that only Islamic extremists claim otherwise; however, everyone in the UK knows it to be a very offensive term of racial abuse. Ray has since fallen out with other EDL leaders, and he is now detached from the movement.

Protests held by the EDL have tended to be ugly affairs; the wearing of balaclavas evokes unhappy memories of Northern Ireland, where swaggering hard men with the same head dress caused general misery for the general population. One of the EDL's founders describes it as "the most ruthless street army in the country"; chants are often coarse, and on one occasion included the phrase "Muslims Out". In May, a protest held by "United People of Luton", which overlaps with the EDL, included men in balaclavas, and an Asian-owned shop was attacked; a protest in Birmingham in July led to scuffles and arrests. A follow-up protest in the city a few weeks later - at which the EDL was more restrained in its rhetoric - was met with a violent reaction from some young local Asians, who reportedly also attacked some white passersby. Just last week, the EDL managed to get a reaction without even showing up: they cancelled a protest in Luton, but local Asians who had geared up for a fight took their frustrations out on the police.

In the interview with Mawyer (part one here), the main EDL speaker complains that his home town is being taken over by Muslims, who, he claims, have a birth rate of 10 children per family. He says that on occasions of one minute silences in the town "any Asians" will deliberately make noise, and that they yearly celebrate 9/11.  He also objects to Muslims "infiltrating" the local council and government, and suggests that they make decisions to close down churches and turn them into mosques, and to ban St. George's Day parades while allowing extremist events.

The speaker also describes the antics of a British Muslim extremist named Anjem Choudary; Choudary generates constant media attention from his various stunts and provocations -  most notoriously, he celebrates the 9/11 hijackers as the "Magnificent 19", and it was his protest against returning British soldiers in Luton in March which generated the heat that has led to the creation of the the EDL. Recently, a bewildered white 11-year-old passerby was "persuaded" to convert to Islam in a city centre, and the speaker refers to this incident. The speaker also believes Choudary should be arrested for incitement for having a banner which reads "Jesus was a Muslim".

However, while Mawyer is happy to chat with the EDL leaders, other British "anti-jihad" activists are wary of what they stand for; a comment left at Robert Spencer's blog tells us that "Tensions between some of the anti-jihadist factions who had all been kindly invited by Jason [Campbell] to a meal caused splitting of the groups and confusion"; perhaps this was EDL activists showing up at the restaurant?




Display:
The Republican Party in this country is run by people who would be in the British National Party if they were in Britain. These people are quite frightening.

by khughes1963 on Sat Sep 05, 2009 at 09:37:52 AM EST

Here is the story.

by Frank Cocozzelli on Sun Sep 06, 2009 at 08:53:29 AM EST


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