Sunday, November 28, 2010

England this England or the EDL march through Preston

The English Defence League bring their own brand of entertainment to Preston.

Standing outside the Jazz Bar in Preston city centre at midday was like being outside a pub on the way to a football match. Noisy, loads of booze and not pleasant smelling.

The EDL are a group formed to oppose Sharia Law and Muslim extremism. I think it's fair to summarise their cause as being against jihadism and not Muslims in general. I have to say too often I heard the term 'Muslim' used in a way that did not make me enthusiastic about their cause.

If you look at members of the EDL you immediately think: racist football hooligan. This may be wrong but in an era where image is everything, this perception is unlikely to change unless the group's fashion does.

United Against Fascism held a demonstration at the same time as the EDL march just a few hundred metres away across the city. The two groups definitely do not shop in the same department store.

The plus points were that the march seemed to take place without any trouble. I saw nothing. The police, out in force, did an excellent job.

But I did witness a change of mood in the build-up to the short march. Friendly chat and smiles were replaced why what I can best describe as hysteria, fuelled by firework bangers and smoke bombs.

Most ironic moment of the day for me was meeting someone who used to live in the city, a self-confessed racist, who had travelled down from Carlisle to see the march - but was refusing to take part in it as he did not want to be negatively associated with the EDL. A racist worried about his public image? Where does that leave us?

A blogger called Banjaxer came up from Manchester to experience the demonstration and he makes some excellent points.

He said: "Sadly all I witnessed today was a mob, and mob is the correct word, of mostly young men with an obvious lack of understanding of  where they live. The country they all claim so loudly to love is not the country they think it is.

"In their small world England is under threat from what they mostly referred to as ‘Muslim c*nts’ or ‘paki b*st*rds’ who want to make us all follow ‘sharia laws’ and ‘blow us up to f*ck’.

"If any of them really think they have the support of anyone apart from a few poorly educated rejects from the Jeremy Kyle show with anger management issues, they are very much mistaken.

"All their best efforts at reasoned debate on the internet and elsewhere all fall apart when they get together and descend into a ranting, racist chanting, hoard of  hate filled hooligans.

"They need to educate themselves a bit more about the facts of immigration and assimilation; the history of the working class in Britain and our place in the world; the failings of fascism, national socialism and oppression of minorities in European history."

His full blog can be read here

This is Preston, this is the EDL:

[vimeo w=400&h=265]
EDL Preston November 27, 2010 from Garry Cook on Vimeo.

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