EDL and UAF hit the streets of Newcastle – UPDATE
By Stephen Noble on June 1, 2010 in Society
One kyeo.tv reader, Chris Ferry, who took part in the demonstrations at the weekend has sent through a balanced and strong explanation on why the EDL just don’t make sense, found at the end of this article.
Obviously in keeping with kyeo.tv being an open sourced site it’s more than welcome, and if any readers want to put forward an English Defence League argument send a message to email@example.com
The major confrontation was between Unite Against Fascism (UAF) and the English Defence League (EDL), the yin and yangs that, oddly, had much in common when you spoke to them.
Both were annoyed at the funding of the other, EDL were ‘backed by millionaires, not by the people like us in the UAF’, whereas ‘the UAF have the multimillion pound unions behind them, they even get their buses for free, whereas us EDL are just the working class getting off our backsides.’ It got oddly repetitive.
And then there’s the violence. EDL are synonymous with fighting, but according to three EDL supporters, UAF were worse. In a previous March in Bolton, more than 50 UAF were arrested with only 9 from the EDL, “What does that tell you about them, eh?”. I didn’t have an answer.
They even had catchy chants between them. The ‘Anti-fascionista’ heard in the video above was my favourite for jingles, and the least favourite would have to be about ‘Muslim scum’ with a soloist at the end mentioning something about ‘ragheads’, which left me feeling dirty. But the EDL insist they are definitely not racist. Definitely not, no siree.
I would say that the majority of the EDL demonstrators don’t think they’re racist, just like my granny doesn’t think it’s racist when she says something really racist.
The EDL, however, in my very limited experience, were very welcoming, very polite and although not many wanted to be named, they would all talk freely.
The EDL were obviously cautious of me as a reporter, but only two out
of nearly 2,000 really showed it. I was ‘Paparazzi scum’ according to one, although that was quickly cleared up by the man I was interviewing, ‘He’s alright this one, he’s not a pap’ (I question if that’s a compliment), and then had my photo taken by another ‘in case I twist it then we know who to blacklist.’
Hell. Am I twisting things? Do I want to be blacklisted by the EDL, or is that some sort of right of passage?
The only thing I came away with was that both groups don’t have an answer, and both have pricks within the ranks.
The organisation by the police left no one in any doubt where the route was, and so when UAF came down early to the EDL starting point to antagonise I wondered how a brawl didn’t happen, but the police carefully and with measure escorted them back to their correct places.
There were no arrests following the march, and that has a lot to do with the superb manner in which the police dealt with the scenario. They were highly visible, in strong numbers, yet always on the outside and never engaging, because it wasn’t necessary.
Words by Chris Ferry:
What’s the point of the EDL?
Many of the members of the EDL may not be racist or, as pointed out in the article, some of those who make racist comments may not realise that what they are saying is offensive, but if the point of their organisation is to combat extremism then it seems unclear as to why such a group needs to exist?
The seeming principle behind the organisation doesn’t explain the reason for such a group and their tactics, or what they realistically hope to achieve by shouting “England till I die” in the streets. If their main aim is to peacefully protest against extremism, do they really need to do that in the manner that they do?
If one of their concerns is to stand up against Sharia law then why aren’t they going into communities to support oppressed women and offer alternatives to those who may be at risk? As a group the EDL don’t appear to be in a position where they are trying to do anything other than intimidate people and cause division. Sharia law is not going to be integrated into British law (and it is childish scaremongering to think that this will happen) and therefore those in EDL are not going to be affected by such practices. The EDL’s time, money and effort could be much more productive if it was spent helping people from communities who may come up against such practices.
This then raises the question about what it is that such a group is actually trying to achieve.
An awful lot of the EDL literature that is handed out at their marches misses out the word ‘extremist’ and just talk about Muslims generally, or talks about the ‘Islamification’ of Europe – which seems like a very misguided and frankly unnecessary concern.
There are more than 2 million churches in Europe and just over 5000 mosques, which suggests that the EDL have a problem with people of Muslim persuasion as a whole because it is hard to say that “mosques are taking over” when you look at such statistics.
Combine this with the chants that are used and the aggression that is shown by the EDL at most of their previous demonstrations and it strongly suggests that they are either unclear as to what their goal is, or are using the group as a means of attacking people from “non-white” communities in Britain. I do not get the impression from the actions of the EDL on the streets that most of their supporters really have much concern for women’s rights!
An argument that constantly seems to come up from the side of the EDL is the rumour about England football shirts being banned and thinking that if this happens that it is only fair that people should have to remove their turbans. The majority of these claims about England shirts being banned, because they offend people, are based on very little or are completely fabricated in order to help the EDL rally more troops.
People’s issues with the rabbles in England shirts are probably more based on the intimidating nature of the big groups of people they come across wearing the shirts, rather than because wearing the shirt itself is offensive. I have, on many occasions, been in situations where drunken yobs in England shirts (and other football colours) have been abusive, violent and aggressive towards me on the streets and at work. Having worked in pubs for the past 5 years, the only people that have resulted in the police being called have been gangs of football supporters getting into fights, breaking things or being intimidating or aggressive towards staff and customers. I have also lived opposite a mosque for the past 3 years and have never once had a negative experience with anyone from the Muslim community.
It seems to me that the EDL are unsure as to the point of their existence and as a demonstrating force seem to have the sole goal of intimidating, dividing and spreading fear.
If their only goal is to stop extremism there are much more constructive and useful ways to do this.
- OPINION: Sunday’s Riot Had Very Little To Do With Football