Tuesday 8 June 2010

Hypocrisy Over Anti-EDL Protest On 20th June

Yesterday Unite Against Fascism (UAF) issued a statement, signed by a number of councillors and community groups, against a rally planned by the racist English Defence League in Tower Hamlets.

An anti-EDL march has been called for Sunday 20th June, assembling at 11am at Stepney Green Park and finishing at Altab Ali Park, Whitechapel. The UAF statement says:

The English Defence League is a violent, bigoted organisation and an embarrassment to our country. They should be condemned everywhere, but will be particularly unwelcome if they come to Tower Hamlets.

Most people in the East End live in peace and mutual respect for neighbours, regardless of their faith or skin colour.

As residents and workers in the borough, we will not tolerate attempts to divide us or stir up hatred. The real enemies of Tower Hamlets are poverty and inequality, not Islam.

At Cable Street in 1936 the people of the East End united to block the way to Mosley’s fascist blackshirts. We stand ready to do the same to the EDL. This will be a peaceful protest to celebrate our diversity.

Opposing the EDL is clearly something that all anti-racists in east London should support. But it is interesting, however, that a number of the UAF's signatory organisations include those who have defended Gita Saghal's attacks Amnesty International for its work with former Guantanamo detainee Moazzam Begg.

Doesn't it seem extremely hypocritical for those who have accused others of guilt by association with 'the Islamic Right' to put their names to a statement alongside organisations they fiercely condemn, such as the Islamic Forum of Europe (IFE) and East London Mosque?

Doesn't the fact that they've signed anyway rather prove the point that I and others been making repeatedly - that often a campaign against racism or injustice is more important than vetting the purity of all of your allies?

What the UAF statement fails to mention is the target of the EDL rally - an event called 'The Book That Shook The World' organised by UK Islamic Conferences at the Troxy in Commercial Road. A number of the speakers seem like exactly the kind of 'Islamic Right' wingnuts that Gita Saghal's supporters get so irate about. So why no equal condemnation for this event? As far as I'm aware, the only people to attack both the EDL rally and the conference are the Whitechapel Anarchist Group (WAG).

Personally, I find it hard to get as excited as the WAGs about a fringe conference of religious nutters - as the Whitechapel Anarchists quite rightly point out, most have "all been kicked out of mosques by Muslims themselves". The EDL's presence in Tower Hamlets is a far more serious threat.

But at least the WAGs are consistent - the same from others would be nice. Next time a group like my own, the Newham Monitoring Project, finds itself campaigning against discriminatory anti-terrorism laws, I would expect to hear no more criticisms alleging that we are condoning fundamentalism, simply because the likes of the IFE happen to also believe that discriminating against Muslims is unjust.


daas said...

i think the point of not criticising the conference is since it would actually alienate a lot of the muslim community who are there - there are plenty of moderate people who will be attending the conference.
in conversation with people about the conference, then maybe it would be the place to decide whether those who may be considered reactionaries within the conference have the correct response to the imperialism, racism and islamophobia they are subjected to on a daily basis - because those reactionaries cannot be considered abstract from the situation they find themselves in.

daas said...

the place for that isn't literature and publications for the demonstration - that is why the organisation is called unite against fascism - unity, against fascism in particular

Anonymous said...

"i think the point of not criticising the conference is since it would actually alienate a lot of the muslim community who are there - there are plenty of moderate people who will be attending the conference."

well, er , they shouldn't be? Apply the same logic to the EDL. Actually no, apply it to the BNP; following this logic you would not oppose a BNP event because a lot of 'moderate people' would be in attendance. Lots of BNP supporters are just opposed to mass immigration and want to preserve what they see as the British identity.

Actually, you would say that they were welcome to their views, but should not be attending an event held by a racist, fascist organisation that has at its heart a central plan to impose a monoracial dictatorship.

You'd say to 'moderate people' (I'm assuming you mean moderate muslims here, really doubt many non-muslims are going to the Troxy that day) that they again, are welcome to their belief but should not be attending an event held by a racist, semi-fascist group that has an agenda of imposing a disgusting religious dictatorship on the entire world.

To Blowe - its fringe event, but so are the EDL. The reason we need to talk about opposition, if we are talking about opposition, is that what the story of the day and what it symbolises goes down the right way: we don't want a clash between all ethnic-minority locals and the EDL to occur, giving credence to the 'clash of civilisations' atmosphere developing. They need to be opposed by a mixed group of people - remember that Tower Hamlets still has a white majority - and the conference needs to be opposed to show it isn't being f*cking defended!

cheers for the words anyway,
~ a WAG type

Anonymous said...

Hi there guys,

I've checked on the EDL website and they are not racist (or, from what I can tell sheeps (sic)). I too am worried about extremist Islam (and all religion). I am curious to attend the EDL event to meet some of the guys and to show my support for our English culture I live in Whitechapel and it is a messy, smelly, run down place where as a normal well presented Englishman I feel very much in the minority. If I was in charge I'd flatten it and rebuild it with nice flats for people who work (yes, WORK) in the city that it is so wonderfully close to.

All the promotion in the area seems to be for the anti-march, can anyone tell me where and when the EDL event is? Thank you.

Anonymous said...

The EDL are a fascist group whichever way you analyse it. The BNP have been left behind by events, nationalism is growing worldwide and the fascist boneheads of today think of "British" as a perjorative term, eg "I'm not British I'm ENGLISH! SCOTTISH! WELSH! MUSLIM! AFRO-CARIBBEAN! CORNISH! NORTHERN!" or whatever small identity they choose to subscribe to for the purpose of discriminating themselves from others and insisting on THEIR special right to act in a thuggish manner to people they see as outside their particular group.
Look at what's happened in the Balkans, in the Congo region, in Central Asia, in Russia.
The left's (what remains of it) continued refusal to separate itself from "progressive nationalism" (ie the nationalsm/particularism of oppressed groups) gives the EDL/BNP/whoever nationalists ammunition to attack anti - racists.
I atttended the Big Protest against the invasion of Iraq, where 1 million people demonstrated in central London against the government's intention to go to war. Perfectly reasonable people were giving out racist anti-Jewish (not just anti-Zionist)propaganda leaflets because they had been handed them by a right-wing fundamentalist Muslim religious organisation. Defence campaigns for eg Cuba, Palestine are festooned with national flags (the same was true of the various campaigns against the Chilean dictatorship years ago).
You cannot fight nationalisn by compromising with nationalism. The left should now break with all kinds of nationalism and pursue its own agenda without trying to seek short cuts by supporting the very forces that seek to destroy it.

Richard Wilkinson

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