Al Jizz hatchet job on the EDL

Al Jazeera investigates the rise of the English Defence League.

In “English Til I Die” filmmaker Awad Joumaa examines the rise of the English Defence League. Here he explains why the growth of the far right in Europe can no longer be ignored.

For several years I have been intrigued by the rise of the far right across Europe.

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In England, I have watched the emergence of a group called the English Defence League – or EDL. I have tracked their demonstrations and seen their numbers grow.

In 2010, I made a film about this far right group for Al Jazeera’s Arabic channel. The EDL declined to be interviewed for it.

They knew it was a hit job. Why would they?

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At that point the group had been largely ignored by the mainstream media.

But all that changed after July 22, 2011 – when Anders Behring Breivik, a Norwegian right wing extremist, killed more than 70 people in a bombing and shooting spree. Breivik boasted about his links to the EDL in a manifesto he posted online.

Suddenly the EDL was in the spotlight and questions were being asked. From where had this group – with a seemingly hate-filled rhetoric – emerged? How had an atmosphere of fear and anxiety taken root in a country known for its colonial past and yet today troubled by a gloomy economic future?

“Some people say we’ve got to find a British identity. Where? Which one is it? … I mean the British identity is like the British weather. You look up [at] the sky and you know it’s the weather, you know today it was raining and now it’s sunny and it could snow by the evening. Right, you know it’s British weather. But you can’t really define it. That’s what I think Britain is like. You know when you’re British because you live here, you see the whole melting pot, but to put your finger on it and define it so easily is impossible.”Benjamin Zephaniah, poet 

During my travels around England, I met young people and old, critics and supporters of the EDL. All agreed that the EDL and the far right can no longer be ignored.

The group has organised more than 20 large protests in English cities, including London, Birmingham and Manchester.

Its leaders claim it is a peaceful organisation, but as the EDL gains support, Muslim communities have found themselves feeling increasingly targeted.

Mosques have been vandalised and in some places, images of swastikas and the words EDL have been sprayed on walls.

“The EDL have the potential to become a serious threat but if British people allow them to become one. They are dangerous because they’re innovative about how they draw attention away from their true beliefs.”A researcher for anti-fascist group UK Fightback

The group plays on nationalist and religious sentiments, drawing on symbols from the time of the Crusades, when Christian Europe united to fight Islam in the Holy Land.

And its ‘us versus them’ rhetoric has proved compelling both in England and further afield where the group has forged links with influential far right groups in Europe and the US.

8 thoughts on “Al Jizz hatchet job on the EDL”

  1. tired of hearing this label “far” right and who the hell is that last line about ..” its ‘us versus them’ rhetoric has proved compelling both in England and further afield where the group has forged links with influential far right groups in Europe and the US.” Us V them, ha!, pot calling kettle isn’t it, muslims would have to be the most racist non assimilating mob I know of.
    (interesting to see that Australia does not rate a mention, we are insignificant when it comes to any Defense League. Australians are lazy and procrastinators when it comes to any of this and we are even lucky to have a handful of committed activists who are prepared to be seen and heard)

  2. Betty,
    Couldn’t agree with you more and I am an Australian. A large percentage of my countrymen don’t know whats about to hit them, I keep hearing the same old stories, ‘it won’t happen here’ blah blah rubbish, but I keep persisting with my warnings.

    I can only say to these un enlightened fools there’s a train at the other end of the tunnel and the bastards going to hit you really hard when it does, WAKE UP !!

  3. What did we expect? Of course the authorities are going to attack EDL. If they didn’t, that would mean that they think the EDL is harmless, and can be ignored.

    The fact that EDL leaders have been rounded up and imprisoned, should be taken as a compliment.

    The real question is how these groups, or at least their leaders react.

  4. @DP111

    “The real question is how these groups, or at least their leaders react.”

    Yes, and in an open and pluralist society, how free speech activist and the legal community react too.

    Also, who in the government will speak out?

  5. Its simple. How many Christian crusades were there? There were eight depending on how you group them. Now, how many Muslim jihad crusades against Europe were there? The answer is thousands. And they are still happening.

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