Monday, 30 August 2010


By Frank Natter

There is a war going on. Its effects are not just manifest in Afghanistan, Iraq, Pakistan, Yemen and Somalia – but also in our localities. Police intimidation and racial profiling on the one hand, mixed with a rise of racism and nationalism upon the other. Either can be seen as the domestication of NATO’s logic: pre-emptive action must be taken to stem the tide of (radical) Islam – the enemy at the gates just waiting to kick down the doors. Large swathes of our population are convinced that Muslims aspire to one day reign supreme in Britain; many are fearful that Sharia will be the way of life for all and great ‘English traditions’ will be eradicated with the establishment of the caliphate.

A lack of tolerance within our society is leading many to support the forced assimilation of Muslim communities. The colonially minded within our society are disturbed by the fact that allegiance to God can supersede that the nation-state, and that brotherhood with the Umma means the average Muslim does not support the death of their brethren abroad.

In response to the “impending threat” posed by what Education Minister Michael Gove refers to as Britain’s “sleeper cells” (a euphemistic turn of phrase that denotes to Islam – as all Muslims are, in theory at least, receptive to the call of Jihad), the English Defence League (EDL) have formed. Their key aim is to “get on the streets” and affirm English “resistance” to the incursions of the Islamic world – attack being the best form of ‘defence’.

Their idea of Englishness is manifest in their actions: get up – start drinking – get on a coach (continue drinking) – reach destination – shout racist abuse – break police lines – get into a few scuffles, if not full scale violence – go home brandishing themselves as ‘heroes,’ pissed as newts…‘English liberty’ indeed. They are being met on the streets by the “commies” and the “Mussies” – an alliance hated by both the state and the far-right. Britain’s ever so troubling alliance of the left and Islam is the only bulwark that has come to actuality to confront the imperialism and domestic colonialism we are seeing emerge.

This weekend the EDL intend to travel to Bradford – a city which is 19% South Asian. Provocation is the aim – racial abuse and rioting are the means. The EDL want to provoke the youth of Bradford Moor, Toller and Manningham – areas with high concentrations of South Asian inhabitants – the majority of whom are Pakistani. The attempt is clearly to echo the race riots of July 2001, when the National Front (NF) and affiliate groups protested in the town centre which stirred up tensions within the community – leading the police to attack the Muslim areas. This year, any such provocation is deeply inappropriate. Many in the community are in a sense of trauma due to the events unfolding in Pakistan, on top of that – it is Ramadan; the holy Month – a time of deep spirituality and introspection.

The two predominant leftist groups that have mobilised to address the potential riot are Unite Against Fascism (UAF) and HOPE Not Hate (HNH). The mixed allegiances of our schizophrenic “left wing” have left their mark profoundly on the run up to Bradford. The community has been split by what type of action to take. HNH worked through state channels to ban the march, getting the support of local papers and councillors. The UAF on the other hand have applied the same process that they did in Tower Hamlets – starting the “We Are Bradford” counter rally by appealing for all sections of the community to come out and stand in solidarity with their Muslim neighbours. Months of bickering have ended with the banning of the march, but the allowance of a rally. Therefore, the aim now is to unify the community – which is being plagued by divisions between a vigil, a Manningham ‘multi-cultural event’ and the “We are Bradford”. A far more incendiary situation has been avoided by stopping the March, if and only if the police do their job – and given their history in Bradford, one should be wary of such thinking.

It is clear that some forces are extremely receptive to the EDL’s logic. In Bolton back in March, 74 arrests were made by Greater Manchester Police – around 50 of which were of the anti-fascist protestors and local Muslims – with the organisers being detained under anti-terror legislation. In the run up to Bradford, West Yorkshire Police have threatened Weyman Bennett and Martin Smith (organisers of the Saturday’s “We Are Bradford” event) with police action for ‘conspiracy to incite disorder’. The Police have clearly been against the mobilisation proposed by the UAF claiming it is more likely to induce a riot. Such language has been echoed by HNH, who continue to oppose the tactics of UAF and regurgitate the state’s account of what happened in July 2001. It is an error to rely on the state to tackle the EDL, especially the police who are colloquially dubbed “the real EDL”.

Presence on the streets of Bradford is of absolute necessity. It cannot be forgotten that 2001’s riot was essentially started by the police – who after years of antagonistic relations with the South Asian youth used to pretext of a disturbance outside a pub to invade Muslim communities in force[1]. The blatant scapegoating cannot be allowed to happen again, it is vital that the UAF do not allow the police to separate the Muslim community from the “lefties”.

Saturday will dawn very soon and we cannot HOPE for anything unless unity is maintained. If people manage to transcend their ideological divides, their geographic obstacles and an EDL friendly police force, then the EDL will be swatted away like they were in Edinburgh, Glasgow, Cardiff, Birmingham, Tower Hamlets and Harrow. However, if disunity prevails and the left are split from the local Asian youth – race riots will ensue, of that there can be little doubt. In such an eventuality, the EDL will get bloodied, as will the Police – yet it will be another great excuse for the state to further repress Britain’s Muslim community.


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