Inspired by the ‘English Defence League’ (EDL), the first ADL group, formed in 2009, established a website, a Facebook page (attracting the support of over 1,000 Facebook users), and eventually, in April 2010, attempted to organise a rally ‘against immigration and Islam’ at Flinders Street Station in central Melbourne. Attracting a strong counter-demo, the April ‘rally’ flopped, and was followed by an abortive attempt to organise a rally in Sydney in October of that year.
In summary, the attempt to import the EDL into Australia–and to mobilise Australians in opposition to Islam under its umbrella–failed; the ADL’s street presence apparently existing in inverse proportion to the volume of hot air its supporters generated on sites like Facebook.
Yaxley-Lennon & Martin Brennan
At the beginning of 2011, however, former BNP member, convicted criminal, tanning salon owner and leader of the ‘English Defence League’, Stephen Yaxley-Lennon, appointed fellow Englishman Martin Brennan to lead a reinvigorated ADL. It was this 2011 version of the ADL that organised a small rally at Federation Square in Melbourne last month, and is organising an anti-Muslim rally to take place in Sydney on July 30.
In an interview with Martin King on Melbourne radio station MTR following the rally Brennan, inter alia, identified the Sydney Islamist group ‘Shariah4Australia’ as a target, claimed that 70% of Australian meat is halal, that sales of this meat funds terrorism, complained about Clayton pool being made available for use by Muslim women, stated that the keffiyeh is a symbol of Hamas and that England is now an ‘Islamist hellhole’ (which presumably explains his migration Down Under). Also, that the ADL is not racist. (Note that Brennan’s ADL has also won the approval of the leader of the EDL’s ‘Jewish Division’, Roberta Moore.)
…and the Australian Protectionist Party
While their foreign leader has proven slightly more adept at generating support among the convicts than the (other) “Official”, “2009” ADL, it still putters along. Last month, the group/network organised meetings in Brisbane and Sydney. In Sydney, just eight people attended the meeting, most of them members of the White nationalist ‘Australian Protectionist Party’ (APP).
The APP, established as a 2007 splinter from the ‘Australia First Party’ (to be confused with The Mad Katter’s latest party-political incarnation; Katter being “the greatest federal minister for Aboriginal affairs Australia never had” according to Noel Pearson) has won some small degree of support online, but failed to attract more than a tiny handful of supporters to its numerous public protests. Joining in support of the ADL will therefore help to boost its public profile (and perhaps even vice versa).
In general, marginal groups such as the ADL and the APP serve to reinforce but are also in competition with the more mainstream anti-Muslim sentiment expressed by Tory politicians such as Cory Bernardi and members of the Christian right. Revulsion at the Muslim presence in Australia is also often combined with skepticism at anthropogenic global warming.
Finally, in ‘Where Have All The Progressive Atheists Gone?’ (New Matilda, June 8, 2011), Jeff Sparrow argues that It’s getting hard to tell a New Atheist from a neo-fascist; Adam Brereton replies in ‘Atheists Who Scramble The God Egg’ (New Matilda, June 9, 2011), noting that The neo-conservative politics of individual atheists aren’t necessarily the product of their non-belief.
See also : Miranda Devine’s Quest for Sharia (w/- BONUS! Fear) (May 19, 2011) | Flogging dead refugees / live Muslims = smart politics? (February 17, 2011).