Home > General Politics > Anti-fascists must fill the political vacuum the EDL aim to exploit

Anti-fascists must fill the political vacuum the EDL aim to exploit

In a press release earlier about tomorrow’s static EDL demonstration, Peter Tatchell wrote:

Islamist fundamentalists mirror the right-wing ideology of the BNP and EDL. In fact, they are far worse. They want to establish a religious dictatorship, ban trade unions and political parties and deny women equal human rights. They endorse hatred and violence against Jewish, Hindu and lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people. Muslims who do not conform to their harsh interpretation of Islam are harassed and threatened. They support terrorism and the suicide bombing of innocent civilians. Not even the BNP and EDL are this extreme.

For a few on the Left, tomorrow’s counter-protest has one minor caveat, in that it will centre around the East London Mosque (ELM).

In 2009, the London Muslim Centre, which is part of the ELM, located adjacent to it, hosted a video link of 9/11 spiritual leader Anwar al-Awlaki, as part of a conference on the “end of days” – advertising poster of which illustrated bombs dropping over a darkened New York City.

A statement by the ELM noted:

A video of al-Awlaki was shown by an external hirer on 1 January 2009 in which he talked about life after death. Nothing controversial or extreme was said in the video.

But as has been pointed out before, would we allow an White Nationalist to deliver an address on something, provided s/he said nothing that could be interpreted as controversial? The answer is probably not.

The other excuse given was the ELM were not aware of al-Awlaki’s extremism. This seems highly unlikely. Many have claimed that after 2006, when al-Awlaki was arrested, he became radicalised, but not before that. However in 2003 al-Awlaki spoke to another audience at the ELM, where he “addressed Muslims on the subject of terrorism arrests in the UK and urged them to never report on or turn over their fellow Muslims”.

He went on:

A Muslim is a brother of a Muslim, he does not oppress him, he does not betray him and he does not hand him over…You don’t hand over a Muslim to the enemies…

But this is just one example of extremely unpalatable views. As Shiraz Maher pointed out:

  • In 2005 he translated the works of Yusuf al Uyayree – a supporter for jihadist causes and fundraiser for Chechens. Al-Awlaki wasn’t simply translating innocently; in the editors preface it is noted: “Imam Anwar al Awlaki brings this book back to life in his lecture series on the book.”
  • In 2003 he also translated a book called the Book of Jihad – written by a 14th Century jihadist, Ibn Nuhaas. “It is regarded as a classical work on jihad and is endorsed by countless militants today.” Al-Awlaki praised the book and its ideas at this time, chapters of which have titles like: CHAPTER 1: ON THE COMMAND OF JIHAD AGAINST THE NON BELIEVERS AND ITS MANDATE, AND THE STERN WARNING AGAINST THOSE WHO DON’T PRACTICE JIHAD; CHAPTER 7: THE VIRTUES OF KILLING A NON-BELIEVER FOR THE SAKE OF ALLAH

The ELM may have said they had al-Awlaki there for the debate – in which case he shouldn’t address the audience unopposed – but to say they had no idea strikes me as weak.

But all this aside, tomorrow should be about going and protesting against the EDL – for you’re unlikely to hear them make a coherent separation between Islam and jihadi extremism (as I had the fortune of finding out on the comments thread of this blog entry).

Further, we cannot ignore the fascist presence inside the EDL.

In sum, going back to Peter Tatchell’s earlier press release:

The failure of anti-fascists and the left to speak out against Islamist fundamentalists has created a political vacuum, which the EDL is seeking to exploit and manipulate.To be credible and effective, opponents of the EDL need to be consistent by also taking a stand against the Islamist far right.

Only this way can we offer a principled alternative to the EDL, which isolates and targets the extremists without demonising the whole Muslim population.

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  1. skidmarx
    September 4, 2011 at 6:37 pm

    The link between al-Awlaki and the ELM seems old and tenuous and seems to prove little about the politics of the latter, and seems like another outing for the hackneyed Game of Links.

    At least Tatchell did show up in Whitechapel yesterday;good for him.

    • September 4, 2011 at 8:01 pm

      Old, perhaps, tenuous – no way!

      It proves they have no backbone, and that having an extremist talk unopposed, to regular mosque attendees, is tolerated. If a church had Nick Griffin talk about Anglicanism the place would still be boycotted today – and for good reason. The excuses given after were simply dumbfounding. But, then, it’s no surprise to see yourself defending them here. Cheers for the Leninology link, too.

  2. skidmarx
    September 4, 2011 at 10:33 pm

    Gawd,I thought would would challenge the “old” rather than the “tenuous”. Every day is a learning experience.
    I’m not particularly defending them, just questioning some of your evidence in a knee-jerk fashion.

    Anyway, the ad break in Four Lions is over…

    • September 4, 2011 at 11:02 pm

      Well, the old too, if it happened between 2000-2010 it’s not “old”. How many email addresses are you using?

  3. skidmarx
    September 5, 2011 at 11:47 am

    Only one at a time. Sorry if it causes any confusion.

    I see a more informed disagreement with your post has been posted at http://lattelabour.blogspot.com/2011/09/decent-left-and-anti-fascism.html#comments

    As it happens I wondered past the ELM yesterday, and noted that my then attire would not have been considered appropriate to enter. But then their house, their rules.

    • September 5, 2011 at 12:13 pm

      It’s just in my quest of finding out who you are it adds confusion ;)

      I was warned in advance about that post, then provided with a link to it by the author – it was the nicest scathing criticism anyone could hope to receive. you’ll be pleased to hear I’ve a reply to be published at around 2pm today.

      Thank goodness we don’t extend “their house, their rules” to domestic violence, or something of that ilk (not comparing, just commenting on the principle).

  4. September 5, 2011 at 10:49 pm

    Carl,

    Shame you let people with anti-Jewish hangups, like Skidmarx, freely comment here.

    It tends to suggest that you value his views.*

    I doubt many anti-fascists will want to comment in those circumstances.

    That’s a pity because you write lucid posts that deserve a wider audience.

    PS: There is an intellectual underpinning to the “don’t waste your time arguing with racists, it only lowers the level of the debate” which is applicable to Skidmarx, but I don’t have the time nor the inclination to elaborate.

    • September 6, 2011 at 8:39 am

      I always get excited on seeing that gnome picture at the top of the comments thread.

      You have elaborated on skidmarx before, and I appreciate and am often convinced by your argument – but I will never allow views I think are dangerous go unchallenged on this page. However I have made a choice to allow opinion, no matter what, as far as possible so long as it is not directly inciteful, and unchallenged. I even agree in principle that public spaces should allow opinions it doesn’t like provided they don’t go beyond those limits I have stated.

      It should be noted, that Anwar al-Awlaki was given an unchallenged space, via videolink – with his opinions on how to conduct oneself come the end of days (which you can listen to online, and if any doubt was had on the subject of the talk, simply look at the poster of New York in flames) – which I find to be wrong.

      Further, I’d never invite anyone with shady views to express them in opinion pieces on this site.

  5. skidmarx
    September 6, 2011 at 10:52 am

    Where’s that reply you promised? Is it due here or there?

    It disappoints me that you have such time for the bully who insisted that when his friends threatened a West Dunbartonshire councillor, the councillor should respond by meeting with those making the threats and then they might stop,[I would link to a comment I made about it on Liberal Conspiracy, but I'm reluctant to link to a racist site like modernityblog even for information purposes] and a poor liar of which this is only one example. Ironically the Leninology link above deals with crappy accusations of racism like his, based not on anything I’ve said, but the sites I inadvertently linked to. It isn’t enough to stop me reading and commenting on your site, which is normally at a more intelligent level than modernity.

  6. skidmarx
    September 6, 2011 at 12:42 pm

    You’ll have to ask him what his motivation is. I’d rather not spend any more discussing him, it was always somewhat tiresome to have to sit through his lectures on how evil the left are, and I was relieved when he decided that he could no longer stand to comment on the same threads as me (though this again was concluded in a dishonest manner, stating on Bob from Brockley’s site that this was a principled move, then continuing to debate on Dave Osler’s blog subsequently); I’d prefer that he stopped stalking me with his dishonest accusations of antisemitism (again,you do sometimes get used to many people like modernity using that accusation as a reflex against critics of Israel, but that doesn’t make it acceptable for him to tell such lies or for anyone to reproduce them), but that requires action by others than himself.

  7. September 6, 2011 at 3:11 pm

    Skidmarx,

    For the last time.

    It is simple, the reason I believe that you are a racist, is that:

    1) you post from racist web sites without an apology
    2) you will steam in defend or obfuscate on clear cases of anti-Jewish racism
    3) you get very excited by the topic but can’t see the parallels with forms of racism.

    Therefore, I conclude, after years of monitoring the Far Right, that you have serious hangups.

    We should not forget that people that have serious issues with one particular ethnic minority, Jews (or whatever euphemism, you wish to use) are generally considered to be racists.

    I don’t use that term likely, in fact, I can think of few on the British “Left” who demonstrate your ‘issues’. That’s why you stand out on this topic.

    Again, people that demonstrate a particular hangup, obsession, negativity, in a persistent way, toward one or more ethnicity are generally considered to be bigots or racists.

    Skidmarx has consistently shown that type of behaviour when the subject matter is Jews. Thus, I conclude that the reason for his animus is some form of prejudice on his part. I would prefer if he wasn’t prejudice against Jews, but his behaviour says otherwise.

  8. September 8, 2011 at 1:47 pm

    Carl,

    I think that makes my point?

    Racists are often unwilling to look at their own prejudices, and so it is with Skidmarx.

    He doesn’t answer your point nor engage with the question of his own dubious behaviour and hang ups. That’s why it is pointless trying to discuss complex issues with him, particularly when they relates in anyway to Jews, etc

  9. Edgar
    September 8, 2011 at 6:27 pm

    Is this Modernity chap for real or what?

    I think he made vague inferences on this site about me once on the flimsiest of grounds. He is like some witchfinder back in the 16th century, subtly putting ideas into people heads.

    People like him ruin many a comments box. A genuine debate turns into accusation and denial, accusation and denial, accusation and shut up will you! What were we talking about again?

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