The following questions and answers are designed to provide a summary of the views of EDL supporters and the objectives of the EDL as an organisation.
They do not necessarily cover absolutely everything that is of interest or concern to EDL supporters, but we do hope to expand upon this section in the future.
In the meantime, these questions should help anyone who is new to the EDL understand what it is we stand for, and should also help to combat some the misconceptions that people sometimes hold about our movement.
Who are the EDL?
- We are an inclusive movement dedicated to peacefully protesting against Islamic extremism.
What do we want?
- We want the government to outline a convincing strategy for defeating Islamic extremism.
- We want the Muslim community to make serious efforts to counter extremism.
- We want an open and honest debate about Islamic extremism; about what we can do to stop it, and about what causes it.
What do we believe in?
- We believe that our country has done a great deal to safeguard and champion individual rights and freedoms, and that this is something of which we should be immensely proud.
- We believe that our service personnel deserve our respect for the sacrifices that they are willing to make in defence of our country (regardless of the criticisms that can be made of the conflicts that they have found themselves involved in).
- We believe in freedom and democracy; in opposition to all forms of extremism.
Can the EDL really make a difference?
- Yes. Our demonstrations are helping to raise awareness about an issue that is only going to get more and more important.
- We are sending the government a message that their previous strategies have failed and that more needs to be done now to combat the threat of Islamic extremism.
- But more than anything, we are helping to give concerned people a voice. And when people have become used to being ignored or written off, that is all the more important.
What is stopping the government from outlining a convincing strategy for defeating Islamic extremism?
- The government believes in encouraging dialogue with the radical elements of the Muslim community, under the misguided assumption that it can persuade them to reject extremism.
- We believe by allowing the enemy to dictate the terms of the conflict, the government has removed the means by which there can be any meaningful change.
What needs to change?
- The government needs to make clear the terms for rejecting extremism, so that:
- It can deny any public funding to any Muslim organisation that does meet these terms.
- It can begin a comprehensive investigation into extremist preaching in British mosques, and close down those that do not reject extremism.
- British Muslims realise that the government is working to defeat extremism, not attack their religion.
What is stopping the Muslim community from making serious efforts to counter extremism?
- Radical Islam has a stranglehold on the Muslim community in Britain: controlling Muslim organisations and mosques, encouraging segregation and allowing extremism to grow.
- The government has failed to combat radical Islam, and is more likely to capitulate to demands than it is to make any of its own.
- The result is that British Muslims do not believe that they have any responsibility to combat extremism.
What needs to change?
- British Muslims need to recognise that being part of this country means embracing freedom and democracy, and rejecting extremism.
- British Muslims need to stop being apologists for extremism, and instead lend their support to counter-extremism organisations.
- They need to be supported in their efforts by the government, by the media, and by the public.
An Open and Honest Debate
What is preventing there from being an open and honest debate about Islamic extremism?
- The debate about Islamic extremism is crowded with derogatory and uncritical name-calling.
- There is a little understanding of what it is to be an ‘Islamic extremist’, and critics are all-too-often unfairly labelled as ‘racists’ or ‘Islamophobes’, again without any real understanding of what the terms mean.
- Those who uncritically employ these terms are encouraging the polarisation of the debate and wider social division.
What needs to change?
- The government must voice some of the legitimate concerns that people have about Islam in Britain and encourage (rather than censor) debate.
- The media must abandon its uncritical use of derogatory terms to demonise people or opinions, and instead provide a far more critical appraisal of the arguments put forward to explain Islamic extremism.
- Those involved in the debate need to make a positive effort to explain their concerns and their views (which is exactly what we’re doing here).