Category: EDL News Published on Sunday, 18 November 2012 01:09 Written by Pyrus Hits: 2436
Last weekend (10th November 2012) we were in Norwich.
Norwich was chosen for a demonstration after the local council prevented a local Christian group from running a bookstall that was accused of distributing leaflets that were offensive to Muslims. They condemned the leaflets as 'hate-motivated' after just one complaint. This is despite a nearby Muslim-run stall distributing material that was explicitly antisemitic and anti-Christian.
The Reverend Alan Clifford responded, saying that his opposition to Islam "is based on thorough research of the Qur'an and [its] bloody history". It was clear that this was not a man motivated by hate, but by his own deeply held Christian beliefs. He criticised Islam, certainly, but in a free country that is his right. His criticism was informed by a careful reading of Islamic scripture and certainly did not amount to incitement.
But the local council failed to recognise that they were launching an attack on freedom of speech and instead spouted the usual nonsense about the need to "foster good relations between people of all backgrounds and religions." Tell that to Islamic extremists - if we didn't have to contend with the many forms of Islamic extremism then we wouldn't need to spend time 'fostering good relations'.
We will not defeat extremism by sticking our heads in the sand. Instead, we need to stand up for the values that separate us from the extremists. Censoring people like the Reverend Alan Clifford does the complete opposite - it proves to the extremists that we are not prepared to speak up for important values like freedom of speech. And that's dangerous, because when a battle is being ranged against radicalisation the worst thing you can do is fail to stand up for the rights and freedoms that we all take for granted.
We would have hoped that the Christian community in Norwich would have recognised the need to stand up for freedom of speech and for the right to express Christian values, but sadly they offered Reverend Clifford no support. Exasperated, he took to YouTube to question why fellow Christians remained silent. He said he was grateful for EDL support but that marches and demonstrations are not his way of doing things. That's a valid criticism, but not everybody has a pulpit. Or, of course, a bookstall.
So we headed to Norwich, well aware that we would face the same misinformation and misrepresentation that we have faced before every demonstration since the birth of the EDL. We have to contend with so many critics who would rather talk about anything other than our criticisms of Islam. In a rather desperate move Reverend Clifford was even falsely accused of homophobia (no doubt because his criticisms of Islam were so difficult to contest).
Amongst the usual shower of the nonsense was the repeated claim that we are an 'openly racist' group. This line was parroted by Islamic extremists, far-Left activists and even some journalists. It is a sad reflection on the quality of debate surrounding Islamic extremism that we can be accused of such a thing. We're not racists, 'openly' or otherwise, and to claim that we are is make an offensive and ultimately bigoted judgement about a group of people who are in fact motivated by a desire to confront extremism. Accusing EDL supporters of racism is strangely ironic because it's a prejudiced assumption with little grounding in reality.
We believe that there ought to be a great deal more criticism of Islam, given the role that it continues to play in numerous forms of extremism: from honour killings and grooming gangs to separatism, terrorist financing and even home-grown terrorism. We have never claimed that all Muslims are terrorists - far from it. But we do believe that the Muslim community is plagued with problems. In fact, we admire British Muslims who stand up against extremism because we recognise how hard that is in the present climate. Unfortunately, the true reformists are very few in number.
That's hardly the definition of 'openly racist'.
Unfortunately, the Norwich demonstration did still draw large numbers of people who are either taken in by these kinds of mindless accusations or who, despite knowing them to be false, don't mind repeating them. These are the people who are genuinely trying to 'divide communities' (another accusation we're growing tired of refuting).
A Word From The Opposition
Amongst the idiotic banners spotted were the following:
"They gave their lives fighting facists [sic]"
- A fascist is someone who denies others their rights or freedoms. That's exactly what we're standing up against. For instance, Sharia Law makes a fundamental distinction between men and women and between Muslims and non-Muslims, and denies them equal rights. We campaign in support of the rights and freedoms that we have long enjoyed in this country.
A poster suggesting that EDL Leader and deranged serial killer Anders Breivik share the same ideology
- Anders Breivik also praised Winston Churchill and Jeremy Clarkson. Did they share his ideology too? In fact, Breivik condemned the EDL as a multi-racial organisation that rejects extremism and heavily suggested that he had held Al-Qaeda in more esteem (find out more here and here). We've constantly promoted non-violent, peaceful protest - unlike many of our critics. This poster is the equivalent of putting the face of a Muslim reformist next to that of a terrorist leader and claiming that they share the same ideology. It's untrue and it's deeply offensive.
'We Are Norwich' claiming to stand against "racism and fascism"
- The EDL are neither. The debate is not about race, and Islamofascism is one of the types of Islamic extremism which we actively campaign against. We have never endorsed using fascist attacks on individual rights or freedoms to fight extremism. Many of our critics have.
And our favourite: "Norwich says no! to... EDL"
- Down with fascism! First step - learn to spell it. Second step, work out what it actually is...
Despite this idiocy, and despite a great deal of provocation, the demonstration was relatively trouble-free. There were four arrests, but we do not know at present whether any of these included EDL supporters.
We won some new supporters in Norwich. And we did so by standing up for all those who are afraid of facing the same hateful accusations that we face every demonstration.
So thank you all who attended - you did us proud.