Do the EDL hate Muslims enough to love each other?Posted on December 12, 2010
The speedy and surprising emergence of the English Defence League seems to have caught almost everyone by surprise. Because they fall between the chairs of a nazi party like the BNP and a fascist movement like the National Front, the media has struggled a bit to put an accurate and useful tag on them.
A recent report on the EDL from Faith Matters is well worth a read – it gives a useful insight into the way the EDL has harnessed the power of the football hooligan Casuals, and (rightly in my view) assesses their main objective as being to cause carnage and beat people up rather than any more coherent political idea of a fascist state.
The report is particularly interesting in assessing the EDL’s recruitment strategy. As well as regional “divisions”, they have quite cleverly developed divisions based on ethnic and social groups, tapping into the fringes of some populations who would normally never be open to extremist groups.
For example, there are Jewish, Sikh and LGBT divisions – all recruited on the back of arguments about the threat Sharia poses to them.
This tactic could play both ways – it’s a strength, in the sense that it offers extra recruits and new issues to the EDL, and allows them to defy some expectations about their worldview, but it’s also a potential fracture line.
The bizarrely multicultural anti-Muslim “street army” (they do love the military oompah-pah) they are trying to build can only hold together if the football hooligans at its core and the allies it attracts are genuinely tolerant, openminded people. Can you guess whether they are?
Exactly. The first cracks are already opening in the EDL. The Sikh division have apparently already complained that they can’t attend EDL riots because the Casuals mistake them for Muslims and attack them.
Now, the invitation to Koran-burning loon Pastor Terry Jones (no, not the Python) to speak at an EDL rally has been withdrawn in the face of objections from the LGBT division. It seems they hadn’t considered that a frothing Deep South Muslim-hating preacher might also hate gay people.
The rise of the EDL has been remarkable, relatively savvy and disturbing – but it turns out it’s harder than expected to hold together a diverse group whose only common interest is a loathing of, erm, diversity.