English Defence League planning march in Southampton

Posted on January 8, 2010 by

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There is speculation that the far-right anti-islamist group the English Defence League plans to march in Southampton in the near future.  Although it was originally rumoured in December that they were planning the march for January, no details have appeared as of yet.  However, growing recuritment amongst Southampton football fans and on facebook suggest it is only a matter of time before one goes ahead.

The EDL showing a friendly face

Despite claiming to be only preotesting peacefully and only against militant islam and jihadists, the EDL have come across much criticism over the last year.  Started after an islamist protest against returning British troops in Luton, the group has visited multiple city and town centres, with outbreaks of violence and thuggery often reported.  Many of the protests are kettled by the police into pubs where many members proceed to get drunk and rowdy, followed in some cases by enforced evacuation from the city by the police using chartered buses (which often end up being ripped to pieces inside by our peace-loving friends).  Their demos are often outnumbered by anti-fascist campaigners protesting against racist attitudes, and are kept seperate by massive police presence.

Definitely not sieg hieling

Their claim to be only against militant islamism and jihadists has also come under scrutiny, with many protests descending into shouting abuse against all muslims and demanding that no more mosques be built (despite being centres of worship for all muslims, not just the minority they’re meant to be protesting against).  They often point to the inclusion of the occasional black member among their ranks as poof they’re not racist, but revelations about the nature of the group’s leadership has cast doubt on this (at best flimsy) claim.  Many of the higher-rank members are also very active in not only the BNP, but also the BPP (British People’s Party, formerly the White Nationalist Party) as well as elements from groups such as the neonazi paramilitary group Combat18 and the Racial Volunteer Force.  Indeed, one high-up member, ‘Wigan Mike’ Heaton , was recently convicted for sending death threats via the website of the ‘Aryan Strike Force’.  One only need visit the EDL’s low security forums to see that many neonazi elements claim to use the demos as a cover for their own purposes and propaganda, as shown by the relatively common sight of sieg hiel roman salutes on demos.

Proudly defending England's heritage...

As a result, many opponents have asked if the EDL was so keen on peaceful protest and being anti-racist, why haven’t they removed their more extreme elements to maintain this?  The answer appears to be that their claims are merely a flimsy screen to mask their thuggish behaviour and some of their own extremist opinions, and thus make it easier to get on to the streets.  Many members appear to be relatively apolitical as well, looking more for a bit of trouble and to drink than to make a political point.

Unite Against Fascism (UAF) – backed by many unions – is planning a counter-protest if there is a Southampton march, as they have done in other cities.  However, they have faced criticism for holding these far from the EDL on the day and not directly meeting them as a result.  Other groups such as antifa take a more direct approach, but the police lines rarely let much contact occur.

Residents and students are to be encouraged to join in and plan counter-protests against the EDL on our streets in Southampton, but perhaps under the banner of being against all extremsists – the militant islamists and nationalist thugs – who spread hate and violence in our communities, to counter EDL claims that opponents are implicitly supporting terrorism and extremsists.  The Blowhole will report when a date appears and the plans for counter-protests when they are forming.

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Posted in: News, Southampton