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Not in our backyard

English-Defence-LeagueWith the Far Right planning an anti-Islamic march in Harrow, north London, today Jyoti Bhojani looks at the impact such protests have on the local community

Having grown up in Harrow, which is probably one of the most diverse areas in London, the anti-Islam protests are deeply concerning.

The anti-Islam group Stop the Islamisation of Europe (SIOE) have specifically organised these protests outside Harrow Central Mosque to coincide and commemorate the 8th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks.

Joyti Bhojani

Jyoti Bhojani

Fears of violent clashes are rife as these protests are being countered by Unite Against Fascism, who clashed with the English Defence League (EDL) last weekend in Birmingham (see image taken at the last EDL rally, above).

The EDL and various other extremist groups are likely to be present. It’s scary to think that there is no mechanism in place to ban these extremist groups from making their views known in this way.

And even worse to think this can be allowed to happen in what is meant to be a cosmopolitan area which prides itself on valuing diversity.   Given the recent events in Birmingham and Luton, the chances of these protests turning violent are a real possibility.

We all realise and recognise that the extremist views being represented in Harrow today, only make up a fragment of the views in mainstream society and its right that the public have an opportunity to challenge these views.  But the danger is that these protests will result in a divided society, broken by various cultural tensions.

Surely, in the 21st century, in an area which is otherwise a cohesive community, these protests are a backward step from which it will take a long time to recover from?

Rather than creating divisions, the aim should be a close knit community based on mutual understanding, respect and appreciation of each other’s cultures, ideas and values which ultimately is the essence of society.

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3 Responses

  1. “The EDL and various other extremist groups are likely to be present.”

    That would include the sundry communists, liberal fascists, Islamic fundamentalists and jihadists hiding behind the well-meaning banners of the UAF.

    “It’s scary to think that there is no mechanism in place to ban these extremist groups from making their views known in this way.”

    No, not scary at all. Just reassuring, that in spite the best (often violent) efforts of left-wing fascists, our democracy still allows people to protest peacefully against ideologies they disagree with, however much we might disagree with them, as long as they do so peacefully and do not call for violence or law-breaking.

    The bulk of the violence or law breaking I expect to see will come from the AUF section.

    “But the danger is that these protests will result in a divided society, broken by various cultural tensions.”

    Precious, coming from ‘Operation Black Vote’! Just another organization which categorises whole sections of society based upon artificial social constructs such as race.

    Just as the BNP do.

  2. Jyoti

    It wasn’t just the UAF in Birmingham, I believe that Muslim communities were encouraged by Birmingham Central Mosque to go and counter-protest too.

    There are mechanisms in place to ban extremist groups and individuals. The potential banning of Hizb-ut-Tahrir for example has been debated in parliament by Cameron and Brown.

    I think that the incidences of white supremacist terrorist activity we have seen recently (Gilleard, Lewington, and possibly Davison & Son) added to those slightly longer ago (Copeland, Tovey) might see the landscape change in that regard.

    Reza

    On the one hand, I’m also tempted to define some anti-fascist rhetoric and behaviour as fascistic.

    On the other though Reza, I’m entertained by your slick way of lumping in organisations born out of a wish to address racism with those that wish to promote and reinforce it.

    Yes, ‘race’ is a social construct, but that doesn’t mean that organisations shouldn’t be able to come together under a banner of shared identity to respond to its legacy.

    • “Yes, ‘race’ is a social construct, but that doesn’t mean that organisations shouldn’t be able to come together under a banner of shared identity to respond to its legacy.”

      Amen to that.

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