Home > EDL, protest > The EDL and freedom

The EDL and freedom

Today it was announced that the Met have requested a ban on the proposed march by the EDL in Tower Hamlets on September 3rd.

I was initially pleased with this as it seems obvious to me that the march would be less about genuine protest than a chance to provoke and manufacture a violent reaction from extremists on the other side. And even if they couldn’t achieve that they’d end up fighting each other and the police in their usual ‘non-violent’ manner.

Then another factor came into play with the riots earlier this month. The reaction of many on the EDL forums regarding the riots was one of unbridled aggression and almost lust at the chaos been shown on our screens and the Tower Hamlets demo took on another dimension, that of seeking ‘revenge’ on the ‘scum’ – the EDL did come together to form vigilante groups, but their sole actions seemed to consist of threatening and running at any non white youths who crossed their path. The situation in London has calmed but with that recent history, and the history of violence at EDL ‘protests’, an already heightened sense of unease was added to.

All this served to make me think that a ban on the EDL marching, as opposed to a static demo which I understand is still on the cards, would be a good thing. I then started to read some of the many tweets on the matter, tweets from people diametrically opposed to the EDL but considering the ban objectively. The gist was that the ban should be seen in terms of freedom of speech/movement/assembly and sets a dangerous precedent; if this march can be banned, then why not others? We have already seen the political policing (and sentencing) that comes into play when the loose coalition of groups opposed to the cuts organise and act; we should be against any oppression of freedom of expression, no matter how vile that expression is.

This had me conflicted.

The problem I have with discussing freedom of anything when it comes to the EDL is that I know it is not something they practice themselves, despite their claims to the contrary. It reminds me of people telling me that the BNP were a ‘democratic’ party when their constitution excluded non white Britons. So I decided to test their freedom.

I went on to the EDL’s Facebook page and saw that they were talking nonsense about ‘immigrants’ being able to claim anything they wanted. Now, here’s a thing, the EDL still officially claim to be solely against ‘militant Islam’, despite their leader, Stephen Lennon, having proclaimed several times in interviews that Islam itself is the problem. However, read their forums and you’ll see that the majority of EDL supporters have a problem with all ‘immigrants’.

I ‘liked’ the page and posted some facts concerning what immigrants can claim as I’ve worked in housing for 15 years and am pretty clued up on the relevant legislation. It started off reasonably enough, I was polite and they were in return. Early on one of them stated that the Koran is full of hatred to which I replied all religious books can be interpreted according to an individual’s agenda, even the Bible – people like to pick and choose. The same chap then asked me for an example of hatred in the New Testament – like I said, picking and choosing is great! About 20 comments in he asked me again and inferred that I’d somehow lost to his fallacious argument. So I gave him an example that someone on Facebook referred me to, that being Luke 19:27:

But those mine enemies which would not that I should reign over them bring hither and slay them before me.

Bang. I was banned. The thread was deleted.

And that’s the reality of freedom of expression and the EDL. But we should strive to be better than that, right? Of course we should, but the irony of an organisation bleating about ‘freedom’ but denying it themselves is not lost on me.

Anyway, I’m still conflicted.

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