The news that two EDL members had received death threats ahead of our demonstration in Bristol on Saturday certainly wasn’t the best start to the weekend, especially so soon after our Dewsbury demonstration was targeted by terrorists.
But this kind of intimidation just goes to prove that our criticisms are beginning to have an impact. Slowly, our voices are beginning to be heard, and extremists – Islamic or otherwise – are beginning to worry that the tide might just be about to turn.
It’s about time politicians remembered that their primary duty is to defend this country, its people, its traditions and its institutions from any threat, domestic or foreign.
Unfortunately, state-enforced multiculturalism, weak immigration controls and political correctness have all contributed to a situation in which politicians are more likely to ask the Muslim community what they can do to further facilitate self-segregation and isolationism rather than demand the reforms necessary to make a serious difference to the continued growth of Islamic extremism.
As we made clear when we announced the Bristol demonstration on this website, our attention was to raise awareness of the various forms of extremism that plague the Muslim community in Britain. But, as ever, our critics rarely want to speak about that. They’d rather portray us as racists or rely on the lazy and offensive assumption that opposition to Islamic extremism is the same as being prejudiced towards Muslims.
What a prejudiced view that is!
Some of our critics go one step further. When calling us names is not enough, they use alarmist rhetoric and false claims that we are actively looking to ‘target Muslims’ to encourage confrontations and to incite violence. Prior to the demonstration, leaflets were being circulated that claimed that the ‘racist EDL’ would be ‘getting what they deserved’ and showed a man taking a baseball bat to a swastika.
Whilst we’ve always made clear that ‘the far right’ are not welcome at our demonstrations, adverts like these certainly don’t help. In fact, the far left have done far more to advertise our demonstrations to far right extremists that we ever have!
Thankfully, there was no sign of genuine Nazis or ‘far right’ types on Saturday, and the police estimated that around 300 EDL supporters attended the demonstration.
We had made clear to the police that in order to reduce the risk of any altercations taking place we did not want there to be any line of sight between our demonstration and the so-called ‘counter-demonstration’ being organised by the UAF and a group calling itself ‘We Are Bristol’.
We also met with Muslim leaders, who agreed that local Muslims would not become involved in counter-protests and who said the following of the counter demonstrators:
“We have also met with UAF and ‘We are Bristol’ to clarify our position on the counter protest requesting them not to confuse and entice Muslim youth to join their counter protest. They have not proactively engaged with the Muslim community leadership so we are not assured on any matters whatsoever.“
Despite concerns that the UAF might be looking for a confrontation and the shadow cast by the death threats still hanging over the heads of EDL supporters, the police did an excellent job of safeguarding our demonstration.
Our thanks to both the police and local Muslim leaders.
Of course, this didn’t stop the Guardian newspaper delighting in implying that it must have been the EDL who were the cause of the trouble. For instance, they reported that a 44 year old man was arrested for assaulting a police officer. We don’t know for certain who this individual was, but it would come as no surprise if it turned out to be Martin Smith of the UAF and Socialist Workers Party (SWP), who was seen being dragged from the demonstration by police.
It certainly wouldn’t be the first time. Smith has a previous conviction for assaulting a police officer, after getting into a confrontation during BNP leader Nick Griffin’s controversial appearance on the BBC’s Question Time.
The SWP’s provocative claim that “[t]he Nazis and the racists should be under attack” is even more ridiculous when you consider that whatever the BNP’s faults, it was Martin Smith, not Nick Griffin, who promoted and defended the racist Holocaust denier Gilad Atzmon.
The Guardian also makes no mention of the aforementioned leaflets or the efforts made by EDL organisers to ensure that there wasn’t any trouble, and it’s hardly a surprise that they made no mention made of why it was we chose to demonstrate in Bristol.
They certainly didn’t feature the following picture, which sums up the sort of reception that Bristol’s ‘anti-fascists’ would have had in store for the EDL if allowed to have their way:
Flyers seen by the EDL Bristol Division suggested that the group responsible, ‘Antifa’, were lining up for a confrontation at Bristol Temple Meads Station. Thankfully this never materialised, although that may well have been down to the efforts of the police, who told us that they were concerned that Antifa, who have been linked to last year’s so-called ‘Battle of Tesco’ in which several police officers were injured, might be planning violence.
The local press definitely provided a more balanced account of the day. The ThisIsBristol website did their readers a service by publishing the views of EDL supporters who, it is immediately evident, are not the racist thugs they are sometimes portrayed as by likes of the UAF and Antifa.
Mike Dyer, 32 from Hartcliffe, sums it up nicely:
“What we love about Bristol is that it is a multi-cultural city. What we don’t like is people coming here and trying to turn our country into a sharia state.
“If you want to come here you should abide by our laws, so that we can all live together quite happily.”
We certainly don’t have all the answers, but there shouldn’t be any stigma involved in simply protesting against the continued cases of Islamic extremism.
The response of newspapers like the Guardian doesn’t just unfairly demonise ordinary decent people; it pushes the actual issues under the carpet. The result is that on one side people are becoming more and more frustrated that their legitimate concerns are being ignored, whilst on the other a genuine ignorance of these concerns leads people to equate demonstrations against Islamic extremism with anti-Muslim bigotry.
There’s a long way to go, but with every successful demonstration we see the tide slowly beginning to turn.
Thank you once again to everyone who attended and who continues to do what they can to support the EDL.