The Daily Mail has an article on the English Defence League with the snappy title “This is England: Masked like terrorists, members of Britain’s newest and fastest -growing protest group intimidate a Muslim woman on a train en route to a violent demo”. It used to be called “This is England: On the trail of the English Defence League” but that’s not nearly prophetic enough for the Daily Mail.
It’s quite a lengthy article written by a reporter who went on the same train as some EDL protesters to a protest and is therefore an expert on the EDL. It makes much of the fact that their core activist base seems to be football supporter gangs and therefore EDL supporters are thugs. It mentions Cardiff City’s “Soul Crew” but doesn’t make the connection that it’s a Welsh football club’s supporters gang in the supposed English Defence League.
The article starts with a picture of a bemused looking muslim woman in a hijab who was on the same train as some hoodie-wearing EDL supporters. The caption under the picture says:
Some of the most violent football hooligans in Britain head towards Manchester to support a march by the burgeoning English Defence League (EDL), while a woman dressed in a black hijab appears intimidated
Perhaps the photo was taken when she wasn’t looking intimidated but as I said, she looks more bemused than intimidated. And notice the word “Britain” in there – the word is used interchangeably with “England” throughout the article. Further down the article, where the connection is less unlikely to be made, the reporters notes that a protester singing “We had joy, we had fun, we had muslims on the run” was told to shut up by his mates because of the woman in the hijab and that none of the other protesters joined in.
The article recounts an incident where a protester is told to take off a mask by a policeman. The protester ask “Why are they allowed to wear burkas in public but we’re not allowed to cover our faces?” and is told “Just do what you’re told”. It’s a valid point though, why is it acceptable for a muslim to be covered head to toe with only their eyes on show but a non-muslim can’t cover their face in public. According to the article, the same protester then launches into one of the EDL’s favourites – Rule Britannia. Again, the reporter fails to point out the bleedingly obvious: no Englishman would sing Rule Britannia, it’s a British song.
The reporter says that the EDL is linked with “far right” organisations such as Combat 18, Blood & Honour, the British Freedom Fighters and the National Front because their members are believed to have attended EDL protests. No doubt members of a great many organisations attend EDL protests – there have been muslims at EDL marches protesting at radical Islam who probably belong to local mosques and other groups that promote the advancement of Islam in England. Again, the reporter fails to point out that it’s the English Defence League and the British Freedom Fighters are … British.
The British English Communities Secretary has compared the EDL to the British Union of Fascists (ironically supported by the Daily Mail in the 30’s), a political party formed by a former Liebour government minister, Oswald Moseley. The BUF was banned by the British government in 1940 and Moseley, along with most of its prominent members were interned during the second world war. A vision of things to come for the English Defence League, perhaps?
The leader of the EDL started the group as “British Citizens Against Muslim Extremists” and many of their senior officers are member of the British National Party but the reporter again fails to point out the British/English thing. The EDL’s youth wing apparently has over 300 members across the UK and their 18 year old leader, Joel Titus, says “We want to hit every town and city in Britain”. Again, the British/English thing is ignored by the reporter.
A Home Office advisor, Professor Matthew Goodwin, says:
The EDL is now well-organised and not just a minor irritant. It has become a rallying point for a number of different groups and to have them marching through sensitive areas is a major concern.
What I find more concerning is that any area should be so sensitive that a group protesting at muslim extremism should be a problem for the British government but that muslims who want to preach racial and religious hatred and intolerance or left wing fascists like Unite Against Fascism who turn up at EDL marches to cause riots are acceptable. Not only are they acceptable but UAF actually get funding from the British government and senior members of the British establishment are members.
The truth is, there is nothing English about the English Defence League. Why they decided to call themselves the English Defence League and then go about singing British songs and waving the British flag is beyond me but it is important that the schizophrenic nature of the British/English Defence League and the media’s reporting of them is exposed and challenged at every opportunity so that moderate civic English nationalists are not incorrectly associated with the EDL.