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Oct 06 2013

On Tweeting EDL supporters

Enemies-not-Allies-thumb“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.

Really?

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.

 

19 comments

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  1. 1
    F [i'm not here, i'm gone]

    People are baffled by the simplest things.

  2. 2
    Bicarbonate is back

    Well, yes Maryam, but Anne Marie Waters supports Pat Condell and PZ and the commentariat have called Condell racist. She wrote a defense of Condell after PZ attacked him, I think the link can be found on Condell’s twitter feed.

    So, does A.M. Waters support a racist? And if she does and if he is, is she then racist also? Or are PZ and the commentariat wrong about Condell?

    And what about Tarek Fatah and Ayaan Hirsi Ali, both of whom get accused of being right wing? Seeing as, right wing, for some, is nearly as bad as racist. And what about the fact that Hirsi Ali is in fact of the right?

    1. 2.1
      ...

      I’d like to follow up on this. I’ve been reading through AMW’s twitter stream and I don’t see anything that can be construed as a defence of the EDL. I entirely agree with Namazie about the EDL – just so we’re clear – but I don’t see anything in Waters comments that are an endorsement.

      As regards Pat Condell – Myers is a poseur; he has run away from the issue of Islam and therefore his words are of little concern. It is why I am interested to hear what Namazie has to say about this, since she actually does take this on.

      1. ...

        Okay, followed it up. This is insane. Waters is defending some of Condell’s rants – to claim that makes her a supporter of the EDL is a stretch of the highest order.

        Incidentally, since we’re on the subject, the fact is that there is a very high level of Salafist infiltration in the Mosques of this country. If we’re going to play the association game, then it would follow that _no_ Muslim could be seriously trusted because they were likely ‘supporting’ or anyway ‘supporting a supporter’ of Salafists (do the math – work out how many Mosques are run by these or have visiting nutbags, work out the numbers of people who visit them, and then look at the number of friends they have. Same principle.)

        So, no. This is ridiculous.

  3. 3
    Sarah AB

    I think it’s great to distance OLFA from the EDL. I have two reservations from rather different directions. I feel the OP slightly exaggerates the awfulness of the EDL (which is not to say they are not awful) -there are different shades of opinion amongst EDL supporters.

    On the other hand Anne Marie Waters still seems to be tweeting in a friendly way to people who look at least borderline EDL to me – and this infidel person is someone she follows, which makes it less casual.

    https://twitter.com/AMDWaters/status/386754963239473152

    I completely agree that everyone makes mistakes – a very decidedly liberal journalist retweeted the EDL a while back – it was obviously just an accident.

  4. 4
    colinrosenthal

    I recently found myself engaged in an initially-friendly twitter discussion with someone who turned out to be an EDL-sympathiser. That was also the result of a retweet from somebody usually trustworthy. It’s not always easy to distinguish at first glance between someone who opposes fundamentalism from a left/liberal perspective and a fascist with a beef about brown-people trying to take over the country. In his case it became obvious when he tweeted that islamism was “obviously” more of a threat to secularism than Christian Free Schools and bishops in the House of Lords.

  5. 5
    BobFromBrockley

    Speaking as a long-term supporter of One Law for All and of your work in general, and having spoken up for Anne-Marie Waters when she was smeared by Socialist Unity, I agree with pretty much every word in this hard-hitting post, Maryam.

    It’s easy to find ourselves in these situations – I know I have – and irritating to be asked to account for them by every Tom, Dick and Soupy on social media. But I’m not sure it answers the points that PZ Meyers or Soupy raised.

    The first issue is Pat Condell. Anne-Marie’s post in defence of him was a brilliant take-down of the fake feminists whose cultural relativism means they give a free pass to Islamist misogyny. And of course Anne-Marie was rigt to argue for his right to free expression. But she didn’t acknowledge that there might be issues with the strain of anti-immigrant racism that keeps popping into Condell’s discourse, such as the paranoid claims about Islamic immigrant rape in Sweden that Meyers drew attention to.

    Then there is the question of whether you can really say that someone’s tweets are “a fountain of info” and not notice that they retweet Tommy Robinson more or less daily as Queen Lareefer does. Or of the “Defiant Infidel” types and EDL apologists like REenlightenment that Anne-Marie is still retweeting. This massively discredits One Law For All.

  6. 6
    Soupy One

    Sorry, but this is a very partial answer.

    I would naturally expect the OL4A campaign to be against the EDL, but it still fails to answer why it happened & why it continues to happen (interacting with EDLers/EDL supporters)

    The reply, we don’t have the time, is frankly nonsense.

    If you are serious about your antifascism then you make the effort to spot an EDLer & their friends, or you don’t.

    I must say I am very disappointed.

  7. 7
    That Guy

    “If you accidentally retweet someone who supports the EDL you and any organisations you are affiliated with are wholly endorsing the racist and far right fascist ideology of the EDL despite extensive reports, seminars and public lectures stating the opposite.

    You should be preforming extensive political background checks on all the people you want to retweet before doing so and if you don’t then you’re a far right racist too”.

    Oh I see.

  8. 8
    BobFromBrockley

    I guess things have changed today with “Tommy Robinson” (Stephen Yaxley-Lennon) and Kevin Carroll announcing they are leaving the EDL.

    Quilliam seem to think Tommy and Kev can be their allies not enemies; I think they’re wrong to thing Tommy’s anything other than a vile racist, and that they’re making a major mistake legitimating Carroll and Robinson.

    Meanwhile, Anne-Marie W is still retweeting Queen Lareefer, Tommy’s major fan. Two hours ago, Lareefer tweeted “I have to say I’m with @EDLTrobinson & @EDLKevCarroll1 on this it’s time to move forward with this its serious stuff”. Then “I’m with @EDLTrobinson & @EDLKevCarroll1 the EDL was great whilst it lasted & it done the job of highlighting the issues time to tackle them”. Then: “Quillam knew they would get shit from the left for this & for that I admire them, I will happily follow suit & will support them & Tom & Kev”. AMW retweeted the third of those tweets, presumably having read the first two as well. A little later, in case of any doubt, Lareefer added, in a tweet to Quilliam: “Kudos to you guys time to take the fight forward&up a notch. I have been an active EDL supporter since 2010 you have my support”.

    It is hard not to think that AMW thinks that Pat Condell, Queen Lareefer and Tommy Robinson are allies and not enemies. This makes me very depressed.

    So, I’m curious, Maryam, as to whether you think those people are allies or enemies. Knowing your long-term record as an anti-fascist and anti-racist, and your repeated uncompromising denunciations of Robinson, I’d find it hard to believe you think they are anything other than enemies.

  9. 9
    Anne Marie Waters

    Ok, before I start, I speak on my own behalf, not Maryam’s, or One Law for All, but I simply cannot let this go on without speaking out.

    First of all, Pat Condell. Pat Condell is not a racist – he has been very clear on numerous occasions that his issue is with religion, not race. I second that. There are disturbing rape statistics in Scandinavia. This report from Norway discusses it. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SWWrpv-pbuc The girl interviewed tell us that her rapist told her that he could do whatever he liked to her because his religion says so. You will probably now call the Norwegian police racist, but I doubt that they are. The police woman in question was right that attitudes to women are relevant and we’ve got to have the courage to discuss them. These attitudes stem from religion, not race. BobFromBrockley you wrote: “It’s the language that is racist, not whatever factual basis may or may not exist for his claims”. So you’re unconcerned about the facts? Telling the truth is racist? I’m afraid not. What is racist though is raping Norwegian women because they are Norwegian. Raping “Aussie pigs” because they’re Aussies, is also racist http://www.smh.com.au/articles/2002/07/13/1026185124700.html

    You might also be interested in the young rapist who escaped punishment here in Britain because he believed women “to be no more worthy than a lollipop that has been dropped on the ground”. He claimed he was taught this by Islam. Note please, he said this. (http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2268395/Adil-Rashid-Paedophile-claimed-Muslim-upbringing-meant-didnt-know-illegal-sex-girl-13.html)

    At no point did Condell blame this on race, but on religion. And perhaps he’s got some reason to given the words of the rapists themselves. The idea that women are to blame for rape is not some lunatic fringe, but state policy in many Islamic states. Sorry if that is inconvenient but the truth often is. You are no doubt going to focus on who did the reporting of these words, and ignore the words, but that is something I can never do. Even the Daily Mail doesn’t get away with fabricating facts.

    To suggest (and nobody is) that all Muslim men view women in this way is absurd and grossly offensive, but it is just as absurd to suggest that religious and cultural norms which imprison women for being rape victims has no impact whatsoever on the views of some of these men – especially when they believe that this comes from God. This cannot carry on. We owe it to the victims to be honest about this. And before you say it, no decent person is going to blame all Muslims, or all “immigrants”.. only people such as yourselves lump people in to groups like this. Most people don’t. But the motive matters and it must be addressed.

    You might think facing the truth is “stirring up hatred” but I rather think it might be the rapes that are doing that. If the truth hurts, it is the truth that must change, not the fact that people are telling it.

    Please try to understand the damage that this causes. Shouting racist at people for recognising reality is the reason that there are 1000s of girls in this country having their genitals butchered every year, are forced in to “marriages”, forced out of school and imprisoned in their homes. Police and social workers are terrified because people like you shout racist at them at every given opportunity – whether what they say is true or not. This is obscene and those who do it need to have a serious look at themselves.

    In summary: standing back and doing nothing to protect young girls and women because of their skin colour – that is racism.

    You have also demeaned the word racist and made it so that it is no longer taken as seriously as it should, and the result will inevitably be that people who suffer because of their colour of their skin will be ignored. You are having the opposite effect and leaving people to suffer – because of their skin colour, while calling everyone else racists.

    SarahAB – I agree with you “there are different shades of opinion amongst EDL supporters”. Yes there are. I don’t like the EDL, I have never supported them and I wish they didn’t exist – but they do, and do you know why? Because people shouted “racist” at everyone who had a legitimate concern about Islam and drove everyone away – creating racial tension, doing nothing to solve anything and instead making it immeasurably worse. Government, police, social workers all ignored it – because they would be called racists if they did anything. This causes the problems you now complain of – this is why the EDL exists.

    As for QueenLareefer, who the hell is anyone to tell her she’s a racist? Do you know her? I didn’t know she was EDL but I would have to get to know her before I make judgements on her – to understand what her reasons are. She’s an individual and deserves to be treated like one. The EDL has seriously nasty people in it yes, but many people turn to it because they feel they’ve got nowhere else to go. Where is she to turn to express herself? To the left? What if she loves her country as she clearly does? That makes her a racist to many on the left, especially if that country happens to be England. She will automatically be dismissed. No political party will entertain anyone who expresses a dislike of Islam and what if she doesn’t subscribe to left-wing beliefs? I know that some of you believe anyone who isn’t left-wing is a racist, but that is your problem. I happen to love this country too, as do many black and Asian Brits – what category do you put them in? What is your view on the nasty elements of the UAF? An organisation which has an avowed Islamist as its vice chair? (http://blogs.telegraph.co.uk/news/andrewgilligan/100140248/ken-livingstones-anti-fascist-group-appoints-fascist-as-vice-chair/) Do you condemn the UAF just as loudly? I didn’t think so.

    People often feel they have nowhere to go when they dislike Islam, as they perfectly entitled to do. I don’t agree with every word Queen Lareefer says, but amazingly, as an adult, I can still respect her right to express herself without smearing her as a racist. She clearly has issues with Islam: she and I have that in common. I retweeted her today (and you can ‘presume’ all you like about what tweets of hers I saw or didn’t) because I support the view that we should move on and all anti-Islamists reject actual racists and work with Quilliam and others to defeat the real threat of Islamism. Serious kudos are due to Quilliam for this. We’ve got to stop alienating and pushing everyone away, we’ve got to identify racism for what it is – it’s about race, not religion. Opposition to Islamism is not some exclusive club and who the hell do people think they are to think they get to dictate who is or isn’t a racist?

    As for paranoia which someone has thrown at me recently because of my website. 85 sharia tribunals and counting? Paranoia? Imams caught on camera marrying little girls. Paranoia? You might want to check out Undercover Mosque http://vimeo.com/19598947 and http://www.dailymotion.com/video/xr1al0_undercover-mosque-the-return_webcam Or are the cameras racist too?

    Now I know you are inevitably going to call me a racist for all this, do your best. I really am past caring.

    You can continue to focus on who follows who on twitter, and I will continue to focus on little girls and women being raped and mutilated. You have your priorities, I have mine.

  10. 10
    BobFromBrockley

    I am very grateful, Anne-Marie, that you have responded so much more fully here, as I think these are important issues. I am not sure who the “you” is in your comment – presumably Soupy, but possibly me too. I can’t speak for Soupy, as I know he takes a harder line on these issues, but I hope you can take my word for it that I have consistently used what little voice I have on my blog and on Twitter to attack Islamism. You can click on the following links to see my references to Majid Nawaz, Quilliam and Maryam, for example: http://brockley.blogspot.co-uk/search?q=nawaz http://brockley.blogspot.co-uk/search?q=quilliam http://brockley.blogspot.co-uk/search?q=namazie I have attacked cultural relativism and I have attacked the PC social workers who failed to take action on issues such as FGM for fear of being branded racist. So, I am not someone who thinks that criticism of Islam is racist or someone who “smears” people as racist lightly.

    1. On Condell:
    You, Anne-Marie, say: “he has been very clear on numerous occasions that his issue is with religion, not race.” Similarly, many antisemites say they have no problem with Jewish people; it’s Jewish religion they don’t like or “Zionism”. Real anti-racists don’t take their word for it: they look at things like the context and the language. To me, talking about stuff like “high levels of Islamic immigrant rape” seems to me to go way beyond any criticism of Islamic theology but expresses a hatred of Muslim background people in general, regardless of their theological beliefs.

    I know there are Muslim rapists, and Muslim rapists who use Islam as some kind of alibi for their evil. I know that liberals don’t like that unpalatable truth. But do these stories mean that immigration from Islamic lands leads to high levels of rape in Scandinavia, which is Condell’s claim?

    I don’t speak Swedish or Norwegian, so can’t read the actual data, but I’ve looked on the web and used Google Translate, trying to find if his claims have any basis in fact. You’ve researched this for your book, I believe, so you can correct me, but I can’t find the hard data. I see that immigrants and their children are statistically over-represented among rape suspects in Sweden, and I know that a significant percentage of immigrants in Sweden come from Muslim lands, such as Iran. But to jump from those facts to some idea of an epidemic of “Islamic immigrant rape” is a massive jump away from the facts and totally irresponsible language.

    There’s a huge gap – a huge range of options – between Condell’s position and “standing back and doing nothing to protect young girls and women because of their skin colour”. I don’t think we have to choose between them.

    [more to follow]

  11. 11
    BobFromBrockley

    [I've just left a comment that is awaiting moderation, perhaps because it has too many links in it, so this one may appear before that one does.]

    2. On the EDL
    I agree that there may be individuals within or sympathetic to the EDL who are just misguided and confused; they may not all be racist. But as an organisation it is thoroughly racist and xenophobic, and “Tommy Robinson”, an ex-BNP member, shaped it in that way. I completely agree with what Maryam says in the original post here about it.

    I don’t know enough about Queen Lareefer to know what her views are, how bigoted she is. I’m not calling her a racist. What I do know is that looking at her Twitter timeline for 60 seconds is enough to see that she is a massive fan of “Tommy Robinson” and retweets him regularly, and that she was an EDL supporter until Tommy’s announcement. If you follow her closely enough to pay her the compliments that you did, Anne-Marie, then I find it shocking that you missed that.

    Of course she has a right to free expression; of course we should listen to her respectfully and not dismiss her outright. But that’s a whole lot different from actively endorsing her politics, which are basically Tommy Robinson’s politics.

    I don’t buy the argument that the EDL is some kind of inevitable reaction to Islamist perfidy. That’s the same argument the Islamists’ apologists use when they blame jihadi terror on Western imperialism, or fascist apologists when they blame Naziism on the bad behaviour of the Jews.

    I half-buy the nowhere else to go argument. It’s true that the many decent campaigns challenging jihadism haven’t marketed themselves as well as the EDL have, but there are a whole web of organisations – such as One Law For All, Women Against Fundamentalisms, Southall Black Sisters, Quilliam, Trotskyists groups like Workers Liberty, even Hope Not Hate – who have taken a stand against Islamism.

    Yes, I condemn UAF. I’ve never said one positive word about them and written hundreds if not thousands of words attacking them. (Search for the word “UAF” on my blog.) So what?

  12. 12
    Richard Armbach

    This ” soupy”, in addition to being a sanctimonious prig is also an hypocrite on an epic scale. I am baffled by your allowing yourself to be pushed around by it..

    It is perfectly happy to defend and chew the fat with people that demonstrate alongside the EDL and then plays his ” look at me and see how I can move you around ” routine with someone it has found guilty of tweeting someone associated with them.

  13. 13
    BobFromBrockley

    [I'm re-posting my first message without links, to save Maryam from moderating it. Apologies for getting this out of sequence.]

    I am very grateful, Anne-Marie, that you have responded so much more fully here, as I think these are important issues. I am not sure who the “you” is in your comment – presumably Soupy, but possibly me too. I can’t speak for Soupy, as I know he takes a harder line on these issues, but I hope you can take my word for it that I have consistently used what little voice I have on my blog and on Twitter to attack Islamism. You can type their names in the search box on my blog to see how many times I’ve quoted Majid Nawaz, Quilliam and Maryam, for example. I have attacked cultural relativism and I have attacked the PC social workers who failed to take action on issues such as FGM for fear of being branded racist. So, I am not someone who thinks that criticism of Islam is racist or someone who “smears” people as racist lightly.

    1. On Condell:
    You, Anne-Marie, say: “he has been very clear on numerous occasions that his issue is with religion, not race.” Similarly, many antisemites say they have no problem with Jewish people; it’s Jewish religion they don’t like or “Zionism”. Real anti-racists don’t take their word for it: they look at things like the context and the language. To me, talking about stuff like “high levels of Islamic immigrant rape” seems to me to go way beyond any criticism of Islamic theology but expresses a hatred of Muslim background people in general, regardless of their theological beliefs.

    I know there are Muslim rapists, and Muslim rapists who use Islam as some kind of alibi for their evil. I know that liberals don’t like that unpalatable truth. But do these stories mean that immigration from Islamic lands leads to high levels of rape in Scandinavia, which is Condell’s claim?

    I don’t speak Swedish or Norwegian, so can’t read the actual data, but I’ve looked on the web and used Google Translate, trying to find if his claims have any basis in fact. You’ve researched this for your book, I believe, so you can correct me, but I can’t find the hard data. I see that immigrants and their children are statistically over-represented among rape suspects in Sweden, and I know that a significant percentage of immigrants in Sweden come from Muslim lands, such as Iran. But to jump from those facts to some idea of an epidemic of “Islamic immigrant rape” is a massive jump away from the facts and totally irresponsible language.

    There’s a huge gap – a huge range of options – between Condell’s position and “standing back and doing nothing to protect young girls and women because of their skin colour”. I don’t think we have to choose between them.

  14. 14
    Richard Armbach

    If the soup was such a hypocrite he would dissociate himself from the Zionist extremists that consort with the EDL and mainstream Zionists until they did so too.

    The Zionist alliance with the EDL…..

    http://thezionistfederationandtheedl.wordpress.com/

  15. 15
    Richard Armbach

    Make that wasn’t such a hypocrite

  16. 16
    Sarah AB

    I would like to echo just about everything that Bob has said. I do agree that crude racism is not the issue here – I think many EDL supporters, even, are not crudely racist. But not all racism is crude – and anti-Muslim bigotry is also a problem, in its own right, although one which intersects with racism. I don’t think anyone here wants to brush aside AMW’s deeply felt concerns about various important issues – I’ve just been doing a review of the ITV Exposure programme for Harry’s Place, which is relevant to this kind of discussion. But I have felt some of AMW’s rhetoric could be usefully adjusted without in any way diluting the strong points she wants to make in support of secularism and women’s rights.

  17. 17
    Anne Marie Waters

    Thanks for these responses, lots to think about.

    Bob, just a quick point on Queen Lareefer’s tweets – I’m not lying, why would I? I would have said the same thing about her then as I’m saying now. To be honest, I don’t spend a great deal of time on Twitter (for the sake of what is left of my sanity) and I praised her because she gathers together the most incredible amount of news stories most mornings – which is when I am usually on. I genuinely don’t trawl Twitter that much.

    Anyway, thanks again.

  1. 18
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