Searchlight Magazine

EDL retreats from summer activities

The English Defence League leadership today postponed its planned march in Walthamstow, northeast London. Originally due to take place on 18 August, it will now apparently go ahead on 1 September.

The EDL has also today cancelled a “flash demo” in Luton planned for the August bank holiday weekend outside the Discover Islam centre. In a statement the EDL claims to have been convinced by an organisation called The Non Violence Alliance “that our efforts would be better spent on activities less likely to result in needless confrontation”.

Announcing the Walthamstow decision, ‘Tommy Robinson’, pseudonym for Stephen Lennon, wrote on the EDL Support Group Facebook page: “Due to prior committments [sic] myself and Kev Carroll will be unable to make Walthamstow on the 18th August. Following discussions with the Police today it has been agreed that the date will be changed to Saturday 1st September 2012, all other details remain the same apart from the date change. Sorry for any inconvenience this may cause.”

The EDL has had this march in its diary for several weeks and the sudden discovery of “prior commitments” by both EDL leaders is hardly credible.

The community group We Are Waltham Forest has been organising opposition to the EDL march and is likely to announce revised plans for the new date at a public meeting on 31 July. It pointed out that the EDL had chosen 18 August to coincide with Eid al-Fitr, a major festival to celebrate the end of Ramadan. A statement from We Are Waltham Forest said: “Waltham Forest is a very diverse and vibrant community. We like it that way. We do not want racists and Nazis marching through our community trying to sow division, threaten our residents and local businesses.”

The EDL cites “biased media coverage” as the reason for its decision to call of the Luton protest, claiming that even if its march were physically attacked the media would blame the EDL. “The issues that we wish to highlight [“Islamic extremism”] are most certainly important, but we no longer believe that demonstrations outside of the ‘Discover Islam’ centre will have the desired effect,” says the EDL, adding mysteriously: “Instead, we are devising a new approach which will be communicated as soon as we are able.” As soon as they are able, or as soon as they have thought of something that can generate a bit of enthusiasm among their dejected supporters?

The EDL’s cosying up to The Non Violence Alliance (TNVA) appears to be more an attempt to flash pretend non-racist credentials than a genuine rejection of violence. According to the EDL: “The chairman of the Non Violence Alliance, Lenos Wilson Tnva [sic], is a well-respected member of the West Indian Community …”. Whether this organisation really exists is unclear. A link to its website from the EDL statement brings up a warning from Google that the site “appears to contain malware” and “may harm your computer”. Somehow this seems appropriate for an EDL-promoted outfit. Visit the website at your own risk. We didn’t.

The EDL has recently had trouble getting its troops out to activities. In Bristol on 14 July, despite a major mobilisation, only around 200-300 fascists trickled into the city. The following weekend only 30 or so turned up in Chelmsford and were quickly penned in by police. So far a planned EDL protest in Keighley on 4 August is still on.

Searchlight will support and publicise (if we know about it) all antifascist action against EDL demonstrations. Let’s show the EDL that they are not welcome wherever they try bring their hate and violence. 

© 2015 Searchlight Magazine Ltd, PO Box 1576, Ilford IG5 0NG

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