Tag Archives: English Defence League

Religion, Society and the Woolwich Murder

The continued belief in religion is a symbol of the failure of multiculturalism; immigrants, and their subsequent families, are feeling like outsiders in the country they have chosen to call home and subsequently turn to things they know to be familiar in their own culture.




[dropcap]O[/dropcap]n Wednesday 22nd May, the brutal murder of Lee Rigby in Woolwich shocked Britain. To state the obvious, the murder was unjustifiable and downright sickening. Nobody would make any attempt to contend that point, and nor would anyone, of sane mind, begin to attempt to justify the actions of the killers. Undoubtedly, the death of anyone is a humbling event and the tragedy in loss of life cannot be questioned. Yet, over the course of just 24 hours I’ve heard a host of opinions on the matter – none of which, in my eyes, come even close to exactly what the worst thing about this whole thing is.

I don’t have any plans to entertain the opinion of racists, or those who stereotype and discriminate in the most uneducated way. For the most part, I think Britain is in agreement that the killers do not represent any faction of Islam – the notable exception being the so-called English Defence League (whose overwhelming membership can be summed up by a delightful video). An opinion that I have found to be extremely common is one that emphasises the harmful role of religion. In this respect, I fully agree; religion has unparalleled power in the lives of ‘believers’. It must be stressed that this is the case in all religions: Christianity, Judaism, Hinduism, and indeed Islam. By virtue of the sheer profundity of their beliefs religious followers have the capacity to be further indoctrinated – and so extremism is born.

Religion is the sigh of the oppressed creature, the heart of a heartless world, and the soul of soulless conditions. It is the opium of the people. (Karl Marx, Contribution to the Critique of Hegel’s Philosophy of Right, Introduction, p. 1, 1843)

If you had to make a list of quotes that had been overused, misquoted, and taken well out of context, Karl Marx’s reference to religion would be high up there. Few understand that Marx’s critique of religion is not actually that – it is a critique of society. People are quick, and perhaps with reasonable justification, to criticise the role played by religion for a variety of reasons: a) religious extremism fuels the majority of terrorism, b) religion advocates a number of prejudices and outdated laws, and c) religion highlights the incompatible blend of cultures. Religion does all these things, but what if religion is the symptom rather than the disease?

Why is it that, in a country as educated as Britain, that people choose to ignore scientific evidence and subject themselves to the subordination of a deity or scriptures? In the less economically developed world religion acts as an outlet of hope, born out of intrinsic necessity in such insufferable conditions. Thus, the only discernible conclusion to make is that the fulfilment gained from social bonds and interactions is inadequate; people turn to religion as a result of a broken society. In all respects it is true that the madmen who acted so horrifically in Woolwich were not acting out on the behest of social shortcomings, but their initial turn to religion was probably because of this.

The continued belief in religion is a symbol of the failure of multiculturalism; immigrants, and their subsequent families, are feeling like outsiders in the country they have chosen to call home and subsequently turn to things they know to be familiar in their own culture. It is a damning indictment of British society and social policy, that religion takes precedence over a British national identity. Never has it been more evident, than from the thick British accent of a terrorist, that certain communities are becoming isolated and alienated from the rest of British society. Obviously, this is not a justification for terrorism – I can only place that as a consequence of immoral, unscrupulous thinking, if not outright insanity. Don’t get me wrong; I’m all for people believing in what they want to believe, it just shouldn’t come at the expense of national pride – British togetherness. It is a sad fact that, because of our broken society, notions of national belonging and identity play second fiddle to religious beliefs.

Religion did not cause the events of Woolwich. However, if religion had not existed – if the killers had been secular, it would have been hard to imagine the barbaric murder of a soldier taking place, as it happened.


Photo Credit: Mig_R

A Rough Week For The English Defence League

Their leader is arrested.  Low turnouts at Norwich rally.  A hacked website.  Abu Qatada released from UK prison on bail.  Despite these shortcomings, don’t count the English Defence League out yet.

We Are Norwich March 2012[dhr]

Life has been stressful for English Defence League supporters lately. Troubles began for them in early October when the young and charismatic poster boy for the movement, Tommy Robinson, resigned from his position as joint deputy leader of the British Freedom Party. He explained that he wished to focus his energy on the EDL, which he stated is where his true passion lies.

Just a week and a half later, Robinson was arrested in his Bedford home by the Metropolitan Police Service for attempting to use a fake passport to enter the United States in early September. Currently, he is being held in HMP Wandsworth, awaiting trial in January 2013. As expected, the EDL community has rallied behind Robinson’s cause, and are planning a rally on the 24th November outside the prison to bring awareness to his cause.

Though the month of October has been difficult for leaders of this polarising movement, the past week has stirred up additional anger, stress, and disappointment . Three demoralising events have kicked the soapbox out from under the feet of those aiming to keep Britain British.

1. The March on Norwich

A march organised by the EDL for the 10 November was meant to protest a decision made by the Norwich City Council to ban Pastor Alan Clifford, after it was discovered that he was distributing ‘hate-motivated anti-Islam pamphlets’. The Norwich community rallied around the council’s decision, and a coalition of 25 community groups organised a counter-protest called We Are Norwich, stating their goal was to fight back against fascism and racism.  Reports from 10th November state that We Are Norwich protesters outnumbered EDL protesters by about 2000 to 200. A year and a half ago, EDL protests in Blackburn drew numbers closer to 3000. While EDL leaders called the protest a success, one wonders if the sharp decrease in participants is solely due to geographical reasons, or a diminished constituency.

2.  EDL website overtaken

On 9th of November, the English Defence League’s website was hacked by an organisation entitled the Z Company Hacking Crew (ZHC). The hacked homepage now states “Fuck Zionists! Boycott Israel! Fuck the American Government! Fuck fascist organizations like the EDL”.

EDL website hacked November 2012

The ZHC posted a video in mid-October, threatening the EDL that they were planning an attack website and justifying their actions by describing the injustices of EDL ideology, entitled #Op EDL. The attack has continued since the hacking of their website. The second phase of their exposition on the EDL, called #Op Racism, includes a leaked list of male EDL financiers, released on the afternoon of the 13th November (The EDL has responded to this release, stating that the donor list is outdated). A description of ZHC’s motivations is listed on their YouTube page, stating “We Hack/Deface for a reason, our reason for defacing is to raise awareness of the issues in the world with a main focus on Kashmir & Palestine.”

3. Abu Qatada denied deportation

Despite attempts to have Muslim cleric Abu Qatada deported to Jordan, a UK court denied this request after discovering that witness evidence uncovered using torture would be allowed. On Tuesday 13th November Qatada was released from prison in  Worcestershire on bail after spending most of the last ten years in UK custody. The case has cost taxpayers more than £1 million as of 13th November, and lawyers are estimating that before the trial is officially over it will cost at least another £1 million. Facebook groups supporting the EDL and Robinson have rallied around the cause, stating the injustice of the British legal system, with followers stating:

“England’s justice system should be ashamed!”

“ its not our country anymore, they have taken over it, and the govenment have let them, they take in all the waifs and strays of the world, just what have our grandparents fought for in 2 wars, jack shit. THEY SHOULD BE ASHAMED.”

“I would love to know how much of tax payers money has been wasted on him over 7 years just for him to walk free to go home and carry on claiming his benefits justice what justice it no wounded he always got a smile on his face”

Morale is low amongst EDL followers, yet they have much to look forward to. Diminished numbers at the Norwich rally give the appearance of diminished support, but a robust Facebook and Twitter community have rallied around these three recent incidents. The turnout at the rally in favour of Robinson in two weeks will be an indicator of the remaining motivation and passion for poster boy Robinson’s cause. Similarly, the results of his trial in January will have an impact on the movement, no matter the outcome. On one hand, if Robinson remains imprisoned, he might turn into martyr for their cause, creating greater unity amongst the organisation’s multiple factions. Yet one wonders who will fill the gap of the charismatic leader at local rallies and events. Robinson’s tendency to incite anger from local Muslims instills greater passions from both his followers and his critics; without his polarising presence the British public may lose interest in understanding the EDL’s beliefs.


Photo Credit: Roger Blackwell