FaithWorld

In Breivik’s “war zone” Luton, north of London, fear and scorn mix

April 24, 2012

(A supporter of the English Defence League gestures during a demonstration in Luton, February 5, 2011. REUTERS/Paul Hackett)

Shouting taunts and trading expletives, a Muslim teenager and the leader of Britain’s most prominent anti-Islam nationalist group are seconds from a fight.

“Why are you talking to this racist?” the youth asks a reporter walking with English Defense League leader Stephen Lennon in Luton, the British town cited as “war zone” with Islam by Norwegian mass killer Anders Behring Breivik at his trial.

As a group of Muslim youngsters surrounds Lennon, another starts a heated discussion with him about Islamic religious law.

Onlookers, fearful of trouble, peer out from down-at-heel shops in this small city in rural Bedfordshire, 35 miles north of London, where the industries that once drew in large numbers of Asian immigrant workers have seen better days.

The goading turns out to be bluster and Lennon leaves, unscathed but with abuse ringing in his ears. “This is what I’ve been telling you about,” he said as he walked off, arguing there were parts of Luton where non-Muslims could no longer venture.

Breivik, justifying killing 77 people as part of a war to halt a Muslim takeover in Europe, has cited Luton, which he does not appear to have visited despite travelling to London some years ago, as a place of strife, fear and “Muslim no-go areas”.

“Look at places like Luton, or other war-like zones in Europe,” he said during his trial in Oslo last week. “Other militants and I in Europe are trying to prevent a civil war in Europe which would cause many more deaths.”

While Lennon, who founded the EDL in the town three years ago, has been at pains to distance himself from the confessed killer – he called Breivik a “nutter” – he does recognize his description of Luton, even if others in the city do not.

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