- Update : Oh yeah. The muppets belonging to the English Defence League are planning demos for London on September 13(?);
Pretty much as expected, really.
As previously noted, ‘Stop Islamisation of Europe’ (England) announced a rally to take place outside of a mosque in Harrow (Middlesex, England), on the eighth anniversary of 9/11 — ostensibly in order to protest the ‘Islamisation’ of England (and Europe). This deliberately provocative act was rendered moreso by the fact that it was scheduled to take place during Ramadan, the holiest month in the Muslim calendar. The efforts of SIOE (England) — which is a paper organisation with, supposedly, only two ‘actual’ members, a Danish bloke named ‘Anders Gravers’ Pedersen and an English fella called ‘Stephen Gash’ — were supplemented by those of the ‘English Defence League’ and, presumably, assorted other anti-Muslim riff-raff.
Prior to the protest, local authorities, including Muslim groups, called for calm. An announcement (posted on September 11, 2009 at 6:33 pm) on the main SIOE site reads:
Stephen Gash was told by a senior sergent [sic] of the police to call off the demonstration in Harrow. He was then arrested to prevent a breach of the peace…
More than 1000 mainly [M]uslims gathered infront [sic] of the SIOE demonstration where they stopped people to attend [sic] the demonstration.
The police could not handle the [M]uslim counter demonstraters [sic]. The senior sergent [sic] said that he didn’t want any of his policemen killed.
According to media reports, one person was arrested to prevent a breach of the peace, but was released shortly thereafter — this may well have been Gash.
On the day, there was some division, it appears, between the largely older and more ‘conservative’ figures in the local Muslim community and its younger members, with elders urging non-confrontation and yoof wanting to communicate much more directly with the anti-Islamic mob. As it happens, the combined forces of SIOE and the EDL appear not to have attracted too many supporters, with estimates of those protesting against ‘Islamisation’ numbering anywhere from a mere handful to perhaps as many as 100. Complicating this picture is the fact that police claim to have stopped a number of individuals heading to the rally from approaching the mosque, and the generally chaotic nature of the day’s events, with somewhere between 1-2,000 counter-protesters also being present. ‘harrowunited’:
Over 300 EDL, SIOE, Casuals United and BNP supporters PROMISED they’d attend the EDL Harrow demonstration on the demo’s Facebook page. Less than 20 of these idiots turned up! Outnumbered 80 to 1 by a crowd of 1,600 locals (blacks, whites, local school kids, Gujus, lefties, Hindus, Muslims and Christians) the EDL lasted less than 5 minutes in the back-streets around Harrow & Wealdstone station, and were sent packing before they got anywhere near Harrow Mosque.
A couple of EDL got badly slapped as a huge crowd surged over to tell them to get the fuck out of our city. The rest ended up hiding behind the police… enjoy the mugshots! 8 people were arrested, all of […] them EDL.
Unfortunately I was too busy to film during the best bits, but EDL were told in no uncertain terms “You are totally out-numbered. Fuck off. Go home. You are not welcome in our town. Do not come back.”
The only thing EDL achieved was to to spark the creation of Harrow’s new Anti-Fascist movement, which will be more than ready to deal with them if they come back.
Of the counter-protesters, most appear to have been drawn from the local Muslim community. ‘Unite Against Fascism’, however, also called upon its supporters to attend the counter-protest, and the presence of UAF lollypops appears to confirm at least some did so.
In the end, the few anti-Muslim bigots who did rock up to Harrow were forced to hide behind police lines, from the relative safety of which they were able to taunt the local yoof. Of the police, there appears to have been an inundation, and their role in protecting those who came to protest against ‘Islamisation’ naturally propelled some to throw a few things in their direction.
From the perspective of those who organised the protest, images of Muslim (/Asian) yoof attacking police lines are useful insofar as these can be used to demonstrate to the Great British Public the ‘irrational violence’ of the ‘Islamists’, and hence reinforce their claims that Islam is an alien and subversive doctrine. That these images should have this effect, however, depends upon the existence of a receptive audience, one which is unable or unwilling to recognise that SIOE (England) and the EDL aim at producing precisely this outcome, and are engaged in a deliberately provocative course of action; further, one to which it is highly unlikely that any other community — especially one subject to as much public prejudice and various forms of state monitoring as the Muslim population is in contemporary England — would, on the whole, react in a dissimilar manner.
In the end, given the relative absence of confrontation (and especially violent confrontation), and given the fact that SIOE/the EDL (and the BNP and ‘Casuals United’) fielded such a minuscule number of their muppet supporters, it’s hard to see how the event was anything other than a failure for organisers. More worrying, perhaps, is the extent to which these and other such events may be used to justify further legal and political restrictions upon the right to protest.
Tool of the Week Prizewinner, September 11, 2009: