Facing the EDL threat

The EDL poses the biggest threat to community cohesion in Britain today of any organisation. Its activities are designed to increase tensions in communities with a large Muslim population and especially in areas that have had problems in the past.

By demonstrating in these areas they embolden local racists and seek a violent reaction from local Muslim youths, which in turn will lead to a new cycle of violence.

It should be remembered that the race riots in Oldham and Bradford in 2001 were sparked by small groups of white racists seeking trouble. In Oldham it was a group of 12 football hooligans, many linked to the nazi terror group Combat 18, who ran down a predominantly Asian street attacking people and their property.

In Bradford it was a small group of Combat 18 and National Front supporters who attempted to hold a protest in the city centre despite being banned by the Home Secretary.

By the very nature of how the EDL organises and its preferred type of confrontational protests, the group will be a magnet for more extremist, violent and politically motivated groups and individuals.

Just as importantly, however, the EDL taps into and increases the general anti-Muslim feeeling in society and any publicity and trouble resulting from EDL protests simply confirm, in the minds of many, the incompatibility of Muslims with life in a Western democracy.

To dismiss the EDL simply as a bunch of racist thugs or a street version of the BNP underestimates both its significance and its danger. It is a threat that is potentially far more significant than anything we have seen in Britain for a very long time because it is just one manifestation of a much bigger cultural and political battle against Muslims.

An EDL protest in Bradford turns violent when supporters attack the police
An EDL protest in Bradford turns violent when supporters attack the police. 28 August 2010