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English Defence League demonstrations in Manchester last month 

What does it take for one 60-year-old man to run up to another 60-year-old man, whom he has never seen before in his life, and attack him in the middle of the street? The answer may never be entirely clear. As far as indicators of a complex situation go, a pensioner punch-up ranks pretty high.

It's Saturday 10 October, Manchester. An organisation called the English Defence League is holding the latest in a nationwide series of demonstrations against radical Islam. As with the previous demonstrations, it is being met with a counter-demonstration by Unite Against Fascism, a group recently established to fight the rise of the British National Party. UAF enjoys broad support from MPs (David Cameron is among the 50 or so who are signatories), but its infrastructure seems to come mainly from the far-Left. The Respect Party and the Socialist Worker have provided placards reading, "One Country, Many Cultures" and "Smash the BNP!" Red flags bearing the simple slogan "Revolution!" flap in the breeze. 

Although it is now the subject of intense media scrutiny, relatively little is known about the EDL. One thing that is known, though, is that it strenuously denies that it has anything to do with the BNP. The BNP leader Nick Griffin, in his infinite wisdom, has decided that the EDL is "a neo-con operation, a Zionist false-flag operation". But UAF thinks otherwise. It's convinced that the EDL is a BNP false-flag operation. So that's the short answer to the question of why the 60-year-old is behaving so badly.

He is a UAF "steward", equipped for this dubious duty with a yellow high-visibility jacket that also allows him to slip beyond the front line of the police-cordoned UAF protest. The main UAF ranks are chanting "Nazi scum — off our streets!" at a small EDL group 20 feet away, who are also being held back by police. But at first glance this man's jacket makes him look like a policeman or a member of the press, so he can walk right up to the EDL, jam a muscular finger in their faces, and reinforce the message: "You're scum and you're dumb, you're scum and you're dumb!"

The small EDL contingent is continuously harassed as the police manoeuvre it through the streets towards a secure holding zone in the middle of Piccadilly Gardens. UAF protestors are intercepting it and linking arms, trying physically to block the organisation that, they are adamant, "has no place on our streets". The tactic makes life difficult for the police, who are denounced from time to time as Nazi collaborators. The second sixty-year-old is with the EDL. He's a local, and is sporting a couple of small St George's cross and Union flag pins on his jumper. The high-visibility jacket approaches, screaming abuse, and the Mancunian asks, "Where are you from?" 

Is this a xenophobic gauntlet being thrown down? Or is the man just wondering from what distant place this zealot has been shipped, in order to play his part in the day's proceedings? Both men are white. "Get the f*** out of here, you piece of s**t," growls the man from the UAF, as he jostles him and plants a slap in his face. The Mancunian doesn't hit back, and the UAF man eventually disappears into the crowd.

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October 26th, 2010
7:10 PM
Seachlight and HnH reckon Davy Cooling now lives in Daventry and is a member of the BNP. He is not a member of the BNP in Northants

June 28th, 2010
10:06 PM
No. The difference between Al Muhajaroon and EDL is that Al Muhajaroon only have 50 people turning up for their protests. EDL has 2,000 and it's growing. It's a street army that can kick off and fuel intolerance. That's why you are getting more so called "lone wolf" white extremists getting arrested for trying to blow things up. The EDL are (to steal a phrase from your friend Ed Hussein) "playing the mood music" for those extremists.

D. Singh
December 3rd, 2009
9:12 AM
Sir It’s a long time since I’ve read a well-balanced article. Amis states: ‘It's a horrible feeling, not being able to criticise a system of thought, and one that is completely alien to our way of life. The feeling disturbs you so deeply when you encounter it that it becomes easy to start considering alarming theories,…’ This occurs because self-censorship is the worst form of oppression. Amis states: ‘But if Christianity did start to become a major theme then the EDL might become more dangerous.’ Why would it become more dangerous? Some of the best dissidents in the East and the West have been influenced by Christianity. For example, the great Russian dissident Alexander Solzhenitsyn and Dr Martin Luther-King Jr in the USA.

November 4th, 2009
11:11 AM
this is the first good piece I have read on the EDL. When they first appeared, I had no idea what to make of them and knew that the British media, Left or Right could not be trusted, the media being an unfunny joke and coming at it from preconceived directions. I thought that investigative political journalism had died in Britain. This article proves otherwise - a breath of fresh air.

Steve Bush
November 4th, 2009
12:11 AM
The article is interesting, but it does show that the EDL was basically started by BNP members, that many of it's members and supporters 'overlap' with the BNP. The EDL leadership and some of its supporters aren't racist - good. But I still don't know why they are protesting, or what they are 'defending' us from. Islamic extremists are an even more tiny minority than the EDL. I can only put it down to the hysteria in the media constantly against islam. I do agree that the tactics of the UAF are bollocks and counterproductive, but that's nothing new, it's forerunner the ANL was similarly shit. How standing behind Police screaming abuse through a megaphone achieves anything I will never know.

Maz Clarke
October 31st, 2009
9:10 AM
To the poster below calling his/herself 'article'. The "myriad Nazi salutes" you mention are simply not from the EDL, yes there have been a few at our protests but they were unfortunate incidents of infiltration by the extreme right intent on hijacking the EDL for their own foul agenda. They are neither wanted nor tolerated by EDL, also a good many of the pictures touted as "Nazi salutes" are well chosen stills from video footage of guys simply waving their arms whilst chanting. If you look, many are obvious due to motion blur. Once you see this for yourself you need to treat the source of such 'evidence' with suspicion. The Harrow mosque protest wasn't EDL in the first place, we need to get that perfectly straight. It was a SIOE protest that had been called off, hence only 15-20 people present, they apparently hadn't received the information regarding the cancellation. Anyone wishing to see the viewpoint of the EDL for themselves is more than welcome to visit our forum. Many who initially came along with an open mind to see the "fascists" for themselves are now highly active members. They come from all creeds and a wider than you would expect section of the political spectrum. Please come over, provided you remain civil you will be made very welcome.

David McDaid
October 31st, 2009
9:10 AM
Excellent, unbiased article. Just the way journalism should be (truthful)! I'd like to see more from you guys so I for one will be a regular reader here. It's so rare to find neutral media these days.

October 31st, 2009
12:10 AM
So just as expected Al Muhajerun not to turn up it has come to pass they have cancelled! no surprise there could it be that they are 'billy no mates'. Al Muhajerun have no support simple as that they are not allowed in any mosques and they are not qulaified islamic scholars they are a dodgy MI5 outfit. However the racist and Islamaphobes have latched on to this tiny bunch of nutters to spread their poison!

October 30th, 2009
6:10 PM
Comment by "Article": * have you missed the fact that the saluters were kicked out? * have you missed the fact that many raised arms can look slightly nazi? * did you not see Muslims in the 1000+ strong Harrow mob doing Nazi salutes? and finally, please stop talking about Harrow. It was an SIOE event, nothing to do with EDL. But basically, you already know what you want to believe, so why let these inconvenient facts get in the way? To Louis Amis: finally an accurate article on this topic, well done.

October 30th, 2009
3:10 PM
What an absolute joke! The ignorance of the writer concerning the Al Muhajerun is laughable! They have no support in the Muslims community whatsoever! They can hardly get a dozen people to March! You've got no idea about how the mosques are run and how much they oppose MI5 Anjum! Fact is Anjum Choudry Al Muhajerun who number LESS THAN 50 nationally at best! are so hated by the UK Muslim community that they have been banned from every mosque and have been chased and beaten up literally since the 1990’s especially in the North and they will never get support from UK Muslims (that’s why you never see them up North but that’s another whole topic altogether). It’s a shame that this has not been publicised and very few people except Muslims are aware of this. People really need to know that the UK Muslim community have been fighting this tiny vociferous Minority for the last 15 years! Out of over a thousand mosques in the country they were only able to preach at one i.e. Finsbury Park Mosque and that was only after they physically beat up the trustees and took it over. Thankfully the mosque is now back with the trustees after successful legal action. That’s why they are always on the streets or talking to the media who lap it all up, Anjum Choudry is not even a trained qualified Islamic Scholar in fact he did law at uni before he became a looney. Many Muslims believe they are MI5 agents used as a honey trap or agent provocateurs. Ask yourselves this, why is Anjum Choudry never arrested??? Why do high profile MPs call for action against them and then nothing happens and you never hear about it ever again? Why do they only pop up at the most opportune moments cause extreme offence and then disappear again? Why are they on first name terms with the media/journalists? Why are they portrayed as if they have support from and speak for the UK Muslim community? This whole outfit stinks! The EDL are thick! They are plain racist! with their 'paki' chants and Nazi salutes! They are using a single issue like MI5 Anjum to beat a whole community! If they didnt have Anjum they would find another excuse!

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