UK

Britain’s anti-Muslim militants turn on police

UK police are hopeful in their search for a group of far-right hooligans who beat up a police officer at an anti-immigration protest in Stoke-on-Trent after an amateur video of the incident was posted on YouTube. Read more and see the clip...

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UK police are hopeful in their search for a group of far-right hooligans who beat up a police officer at an anti-immigration protest in Stoke-on-Trent after an amateur video of the incident was posted on YouTube.

The "English Defence League" (EDL), which claims to be defending England from Muslim extremists, is largely considered a disorganised rabble of racists, currently ineffectual but potentially dangerous. The movement was born in March 2009 after an army homecoming ceremony in Luton was gatecrashed by a bunch of Muslim anti-war loudmouths who labelled British troops in Afghanistan "the butchers of Basra" (they were later sentenced for public disorder offences).

Since then the EDL has staged several protests against what they say are terrorists.   The protest in Stoke-on-Trent (a city in the West Midlands) was the most violent to date however, resulting in the injuries of four officers and the arrests of 17 supposed EDL members. This video shows the attack on one officer after he was knocked to the ground. The police say that they are now looking to identify the assailants in the footage and the man who helped the officer from further attack.

“The EDL presents itself as respectable (…). Thanks to this video, we see quite clearly that it’s a different story”

Harmit Athwal is a member of the anti-racist organisation the Institute on Race Relations (IRR).

The Luton incident [March 2009] acted as a launching pad for the EDL and Casuals United, made up mainly of former football hooligans linked to the far-right. Since then the EDL has grown very quickly. They've already staged numerous demonstrations across the country, including in London. This video shows exactly how out of hand most EDL gatherings get. And particularly because there are anti-Nazi activists present.

Like Casuals United, they've got close ties with certain football clubs, where they do most of their recruitment work. They pretend to have nothing to do with the far-right British National Party (BNP), but their members often attend the protests.

They want to present themselves as respectable people. Their leaders often give calm speeches and on their website they simply describe themselves as 'peacefully protesting against militant Islam'. Thanks to this video, we see quite clearly that it's a different story."

The amateur video