“Soupy” has asked for clarification on One Law for All’s position with regards the English Defence League. I don’t see why we need to clarify every time some Tom, Dick or Soupy demands clarification but since I have promised to respond, I will do so briefly and this once.
Firstly, our position is as clear as daylight. For One Law for All, the English Defence League and far-Right are our enemies not allies. We’ve campaigned extensively against them, including opposing them at every opportunity possible. We’ve explained countless times why secularists should oppose them (see our FAQs here) and we have written an extensive report on the matter. You can also see our position being explained at a seminar we organised on the issue here.
All these years of work and our ongoing fight against the far-Right (and also the pro-Islamist Left) have apparently come to nought because my co-spokesperson Anne Marie Waters has tweeted a couple of EDL supporters in a “friendly” manner.
First off, Anne Marie didn’t know they were EDL supporters or members. I know I don’t look at the history of people who tweet me or who I tweet back as there is simply no time to do so. Depending on what they say or the nature of their responses, I might then decide to block them or oppose them or follow them… They might then say something that makes me decide to un-follow them. It’s Twitter for goodness sake. Anne Marie can’t be held responsible for tweeting with people whose affiliations she is unaware of. Of course, now that she does know, it’s a different matter. It reminds me of a Pakistani born supporter of the Council of Ex-Muslims. When he told me he was also a member of the BNP (British National Party), I kicked him out of our organisation – no hesitation. Once you know, it becomes a different matter. Then it is no longer a question of merely continuing with our awareness raising efforts.
Yes, as campaigners, we explain and mobilise and strengthen our movement by persuading people to join us in our fight. Single issue campaigns by their very nature means working with all types of people with different points of view. But even whilst trying to build a mass movement, there are those who are not welcome. Full Stop. And the EDL and far-Right are not.
This has nothing to do with ignoring one’s racist neighbour rather than trying to persuade him to see how Islamists and Muslims are not one and the same and that the fight against Sharia is a fight against the far-Right and for equality and secularism for all – including “Muslims.” Of course, by all means, we must continue to speak to our racist or sexist neighbours until we are blue in the face and try our hardest to change their views. Anne Marie and I have gone up and down the country speaking till we are blue in the face – trying to explain these very things. But once that neighbour or the person you are tweeting joins an organised movement that spews hatred, then s/he must be held to account.
I know many EDL members will say they are not racist. To me, that is like an Islamist saying he is not anti-woman. It’s not possible. If you’re not racist or misogynist, then get the fuck out of the EDL or Islamism and then maybe we can talk. I explain this more here. Until then, you are my enemy not ally.
This is not about restricting anyone’s free expression. Everyone is free to say anything they want and speak with anyone they want. Especially on their own time. Anne Marie and I campaign on other issues too. We also have other very strong views that go beyond the remit of our work as spokespersons for One Law for All. Nonetheless, there are some things that are fundamental to who we are and one of them is that it is impossible to fight the far-Right Islamic movement with the Christian far-Right. They are two sides of the same coin. They are thugs. They hate anyone and everyone who does not look like them or agree with them. And they don’t just disagree in the way the rest of us do. They threaten, harm and murder with impunity.
The Nazis, Norway’s Breivik and Greece’s Golden Dawn are good examples. And there are many examples of the EDL’s inhumanity and racism. They are thugs and haters just like the Islamists. It’s no wonder every neo-Nazi and fascist in a 100-mile radius flocks to them like moths to a flame. Just recently, again, Tommy Robinson, the EDL’s leader, has been exposed for threatening and intimidating behaviour. Read it here.
I know people will say that the EDL’s actions are incomparable with the Islamists but if it is so, it is only because of their differences in power. Even Islamists in Britain are incomparable with those in Iran or Saudi Arabia. They have to use rights language and double speak to make inroads whereas there they just hang people in city centres and call it justice. It is not because they are nicer here. It is because they have less access and influence. Whatever amount of power they do have, that is the degree to which they will make life hell for the population at large.
As I said, two sides of the same coin…
So Soupy: not complex for those committed to anti-racism, or anyone literate as you say.