Insights from the UK and beyond
About 1,500 far-right protesters marched through the centre of the British city of Luton Saturday to rally against "militant Islam," requiring a heavy police presence to avert clashes with 1,000 anti-fascist demonstrators. A sixth of Luton's population is Muslim, and past marches by the English Defence League have led to conflict with their opponents. The city centre turned into a virtual ghost town before the rally, with shops boarded up and pubs closed.
But police and community activists averted large-scale violence, making only eight arrests on a mix of assault, drugs and weapons charges. There were no serious injuries.
Tensions ran high as EDL leader Stephen Lennon told marchers to reject the influence of Islam in British public life. "Every single one of you are on the forefront of the fight against militant Islam," he said, as supporters chanted the EDL's name and nationalist songs based on those more usually associated with English football games.
from The Great Debate UK:
Professor Ted Cantle is executive chair, Institute of Community Cohesion at Coventry University. The opinions expressed are his own.-
The apparent failure of the British National Party to secure a parliamentary seat at the May 2010 general election has obscured the growth in support for far right groups.
Muslims are facing increased discrimination across Europe and urgent action needs to be taken at local, national and EU levels to tackle the problem, according to a report published on Tuesday.
Today it was warned to stop using military imagery in its campaign material. A group of former military leaders accused the BNP, which has used photographs of spitfire fighter planes and Winston Churchill, of hijacking Britain’s history for their own “dubious ends.”
The distinguished generals said this tarnished the reputation of the armed forces and called on them to “cease and desist.”