Posts Tagged ‘English Defence League’

Brian Haw, Democracy, Cabs, Colombia & Israeli Atrocity – 2010

Sunday, June 2nd, 2024

Brian Haw, Democracy, Cabs, Colombia & Israeli Atrocity: Six protests on Wednesday 2nd June 2010.


Brian Haw & Democracy Village – Parliament Square

Brian Haw, Democracy, Cabs, Colombia & Israeli Atrocity

It was 9 years since Brian Haw had begun his peace protest in Parliament Square and police marked the occasion by serving a summons on his fellow protester Barbara Tucker for using a megaphone. An officer writes out the details as I take photographs (more online.)

Brian Haw, Democracy, Cabs, Colombia & Israeli Atrocity

The previous week both Brian and Barbara had been arrested and held for 30 hours while the Queen came for the state opening of Parliament – as usual others in the campaign continued the protest during their enforced absence.

Brian Haw, Democracy, Cabs, Colombia & Israeli Atrocity

The arrest had come after Brian had objected to police carrying out a search of his home – a tent in Parliament Square – without a warrant – the 13th or 14th illegal search police have made as a part of the continual campaign of harassment against him over the years.

Brian Haw, Democracy, Cabs, Colombia & Israeli Atrocity

Still also in Parliament Square were the tents of the separate peace campaign Brian and Barbara label as the Police Camp, Democracy Village, there since the May Day protest a month ago.

A handful of those from the camp were protesting outside the railings around Parliament with banners demanding peace and questioning the authority of Parliament. Police generally left them along apart from telling some to climb down from the wall.

BrianHaw – Summons Marks 9 Years
Democracy Village Protest


Black Cabs Protest – Aldwych

Several thousand ‘black cabs’ had come to Aldwych with a number of ‘knowledge boys and girls’ on scooters currently training for the job, causing considerable disruption and delay to London traffic. They claim they are unfairly victimised by Transport for London, the Public Carriage Office and Westminster city council.

Many non-cabbies feel that these cabs are an outdated relic from the era of the hansom cab and that their operations in ‘plying for hire’ lead to unnecessary congestion. Minicab drivers feel that they are discriminated against in favour of the cabs and arguably have a rather stronger case.

Black cabs are largely used by a relatively small and well-off section of the community and we could surely have a better public transport system for the majority without them. But in my post on My London Diary I have a longer description of their grievances as well as reporting how police attempts to control the protest multiplied its effectiveness.

Black Cabs Protest


BP Picket for Colombian Oil Workers – St James’s Square

The Colombia Solidarity Campaign held a picket outside BP’s HQ in support of Colombian oil workers who have occupied a BP plant on the Cusiana oilfield and are stopping building works there while allowing normal work at the plant to continue.

On My London Diary you can read a lengthy piece on the dispute in an area of Colombia under military occupation and where peaceful protesters occupying the plant were attacked by armed commandos from the Colombian Army together with BP’s private security personnel.

Among the speakers at the picket was Jim Catterson of the ICEM, the International Federation of Chemical, Energy, Mine and General Worker’s Unions, ICEM, which represents more than 20 million workers around the world, and was calling for international solidarity with the oil worker’s union (USO) and the Movement for the Dignity of Casanare in the fight against BP.

Much more about the dispute and protest at BP Picket for Colombian Oil Workers.


Protest for Murad Akincilar – Turkish Embassy, Belgrave Square

A protest at the Turkish Embassy called for the release of trade unionist Murad Akincilar arrested the previous September while on extended holiday in Turkey and still in prison in Istanbul. Lack of medical care in prison has resulted in serious eye damage and partial blindness. His case was due to come to court again the following day.

Based in Switzerland where he works for trade union Unia, Akincilar had studied in London for a Masters degree at the LSE 18 years earlier and was known personally to some in the protest organised by Fight Racism! Fight Imperialism! and Gikder to support the campaign being organised by the Swiss trade union Unia.

Protest for Murad Akincilar


Zionist Federation Supports Israeli Atrocity – Israeli Embassy, Kensington

The Zionist Federation together with members of the English Defence League demonstrated opposite the Israeli embassy in support of the Israeli Defence Force killings in the attack on the Gaza aid flotilla.

A few Palestinian supporters had come to oppose this protest but the Palestinian Solidarity Campaign and Stop the War had decided not to support the counter-demonstration to avoid conflict.

On My London Diary I quote statements by the World Zionist Orgainsation and the World Jewish Congress (WJC) expressing regret at the loss of life that occurred, but the mood of this pro-Israel protest was very different, “one of a gloating triumphalism that seemed entirely inappropriate to the situation“, and I state I was “sickened when at one point a large group of the demonstrators began chanting ‘dead Palestinian scum‘.

I also recorded “I had been appalled to find that this was to be a demonstration jointly with the Zionist Federation and the English Defence League, some of whose members many of us have seen and heard chanting racist slogans on our streets. It seems unbelievable that a Jewish organisation should align itself – even if unofficially – with people like this.” Few EDL actually turned up.

One placard read ‘Peace Activists don’t use weapons’ but as I pointed out on My London Diary the the photographs on the WJC web site show “almost entirely exactly the kind of tools that would be expected to be found on any ship in its galley and for general maintenance, as well as items being taken for building work in Gaza” with the exception of “a few canisters of pepper spray, some catapults and what looks like some kind of ceremonial knife.

As I also pointed out in my report, the “the actions of the state of Israel in their attacks on Gaza, their disruption of everyday life for the Palestinians and the blockade is making the possibility of peace much more distant. I’m not a supporter of Hamas, but Israel needs to ask why Hamas enjoys such support in Gaza and to change its own policies which have led to this. Like other conflicts, resolution depends on winning hearts and minds and this can’t be done with tanks and bulldozers.”

I had few problems covering the protest but other press were less fortunate. Four “were surrounded and chased by a an angry group of threatening Zionist demonstrators at the end of the protest, before police eventually stepped in to protect them.”

More at Zionist Federation Support Israeli Atrocity.


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EDL Rally Supports Israel – 2010

Tuesday, October 24th, 2023

EDL Rally Supports Israel: In 2010 the English Defence League (EDL) an extreme right-wing organisation founded in June 2009 was reaching the peak of its existence and several hundred came to a protest in Kensington to show their support of Israel.

EDL Rally Supports Israel

The EDL’s support of Israel came from the anti-Muslim centre of their activities; the group was founded following their opposition to a protest at a homecoming parade in Luton by a small group of Muslim extremists against a regiment returning from Afghanistan, which was also opposed by Luton’s large Muslim community.

EDL Rally Supports Israel
Rabbi Nachum Shifren

The EDL had invited right-wing US Rabbi Nachum Shifren, part of the ‘Tea Party’ movement from California to speak at the rally outside the Israeli Embassy. As I wrote at the time, “Although the EDL claim to be opposing the rise of fascism in their opposition to Muslim extremists, they have come to a very biased view over Israel and Palestine, and have been very effectively infiltrated by bigoted Zionists.

EDL Rally Supports Israel

The EDL gathered at a pub on Gloucester Road before their march to the Embassy, filling the pavement outside. There were a number of press photographers on the opposite side of the street watching them but I decided to cross the road and talked with and photograph Rabbi Schriffin. None of the other photographers followed me.

EDL Rally Supports Israel

For some minutes before the start of the march I was able to talk with him and some of the EDL supporters and some were happy to be photographed, and even complimented me for my accurate reporting on earlier protests – while complaining bitterly about the media coverage they get. As I told them I always try to report objectively, while also making my own difference of opinion clear.

The press they got did reflect the behaviour of at least some of those at their protests, and if the EDL wanted to end the accusations of racism they needed to take more positive action against the kind of behaviour that makes them possible. But many of their members including leading figures had a long history of membership of right-wing racist groups, and it was clear that the claim they made “We do not support racism or intolerance of any kind” was simply window dressing.

The leaflet they handed out described themselves as “the knights of old, defending our great nation for the threat of Militant Islam” and said “All welcome no matter of colour, religion or sex” and there was at least some truth in that shown in the composition of those in the march, with certainly a number of women, some claiming to be gay but, search as I have, not a single black face in my pictures.

For once Unite Against Fascism failed to mobilise much effective opposition to this demonstration – and did not appear to have tried very hard to do so. On their web site I found the statement “UAF does not have a position on the question of Israel and Palestine – our members have many different views on this question. Instead, we unite around our common aim of opposing the rise of fascism.” And as I commented, “Perhaps on this occasion they felt that taking action might offend some of their Jewish supporters.”

Some of those Jewish supporters were there in the rather small crowd opposing the rally, and there was a more direct action by a young man in a black jacket and gloves who came and stood listening for a short while, who took out his water bottle, had a drink and then reached over and poured the rest of it over the amplifier before turning and running down the street.

The sound from the microphone cut immediately, and the people inside the pen burst into angry shouts. It took the police longer to react and by the time they were moving the man had escaped, probably disappearing into High Street Kensington to catch the tube. I’d also been taken by surprise and hadn’t managed to take his photograph. Or perhaps I’d been wondering whether I should…

Eventually the water was tipped out and the amplifier wiped dry and came back into some very crackly life. Police shut the stable door by moving everyone outside the pen away and that and the sound quality made it hard to hear much of Rabbi Shifren’s speech, some minutes of which were in Hebrew. But he made clear his opposition to Sharia Law and Muslim extremists and I think to any aspect of multiculturalism. And I think he also denied the Palestinians any right to exist in the land which had been given to Israel.

Roberta Moore of EDL’s Jewish Division

I went home rather than go on with the EDL to Speakers Corner, where they were apparently heavily heckled. Another photographer who was there told me “that a small group of EDL supporters had attacked a Muslim bookstall and the 11-year-old boy who was running it, and then turned on photographers for taking pictures of their actions.” His camera had been smashed into his face by an EDL supporter. Photographs on the web confirmed this story.

Kevin Carroll

On My London Diary I wrote at some length about my own views on the EDL and the event as well as putting far more pictures than usual online which you can view at EDL Rally to Support Israel.


Waltham Forest Defeats the EDL – 2012

Friday, September 1st, 2023

Waltham Forest Defeats the EDL: On Saturday 1st September 2012 several thousand people from all Walthamstow’s communities came together as ‘We are Waltham Forest’ to oppose an English Defence League march in Walthamstow.

Waltham Forest Defeats the EDL

Wikipedia has an extensive entry on the EDL, describing it as “a far-right, Islamophobic and generally xenophobic organisation“. Founded in 2009 in Luton after a small group of Muslim extremists had protested at a regimental parade of troops returning from Afghanistan, the EDL attracted support from former members of other right wing groups including the BNP and various groups of football hooligans, with ‘Tommy Robinson’ soon emerging as its leader. The EDL was at its height in 2012, but defeats such as that in Walthamstow precipitated its decline, with new extreme right groups emerging.

Waltham Forest Defeats the EDL
One Fabric – Our Space is Love

The EDL had picked Walthamstow as a target for their rally because of the large Muslim population in the area which is in one of London’s most diverse multicultural boroughs. Only just over a third of the borough’s residents describe themselves as ‘White British’ and the borough “has the fifth largest Muslim population in England and the third largest in London… after ..neighbouring Newham and Tower Hamlets.”

Waltham Forest Defeats the EDL

That mix of communities was reflected in the rally opposing the EDL march, both in the speakers and in the audience, and the ‘We Are Waltham Forest’ campaign was supported by many of Walthamstow’s community and faith organisations, incluing 14 mosques in the borough, bringing together around 4,000 people onto the streets.

Waltham Forest Defeats the EDL

After the rally people marched to the main road where the EDL had planned to march to their rally, going past shops and buildings where people came out, many waving and cheering in support. There was some angry chanting and shouting against the EDL, but this was a very friendly rally and march with people from all backgrounds and all ages mixing.

When the reached the road on which the EDL had planned to march, hundreds sat down on the street, blocking it and refusing to move, while others stood back and watched. I left at the point to find the EDL who were marching from a station on the edge of the town centre.

I came upon what looked like a police march, with the EDL surrounded by more officers than there were marchers.

I reported “As I took pictures a number of the EDL shouted abuse; others put their hands over their faces, and one rushed towards me, putting his hand over my lens before police pushed him back. It was hard to get good pictures because there were so many police around the march, though as I continued to receive threats and insults I was pleased that the police were there.”

The were a few residents out on the street, and some had banners against the march. They were greeted with racist abuse, as were others on the pavements who were abused simply because they were Muslim or Black. As I followed the marchers there was only one elderly man who came out of his home to support them.

Clearly it was going to be impossible for the march to continue along its planned route. Police attempted to take them to their rally point through some back streets, where police managed to drag away protesters (and photographers) for the march to continue before it was finally stopped on a road close to the rally point.

I walked on to where a small group of EDL including leaders Tommy Robinson and Kevin Carroll were setting up for the rally on the pavement behind barriers. Police were keeping the road clear with a large group of counter-protesters on the opposite pavement. An EDL steward stopped me from taking pictures, calling “over a police officer who insisted despite my showing my press card to him that I left the area. I unhitched a barrier and went to the other side.”

Kevin Carroll

The organisers of ‘We Are Waltham Forest’ had asked that the protest remain a peaceful one, but some of the counter-protesters clearly had other ideas and were starting to throw sticks and stones across the road towards those setting up the EDL rally. A small brick landed a few yards from Robinson, and was picked up by him and handed to a police officer as evidence. I moved to one side to avoid being hit if more objects were thrown.

Tommy Robinson

Most of the ‘We Are Waltham Forest’ marchers had now left the area, but there was still a fairly large and angry crowd opposing the EDL. It seemed clear to me that the rally could not go ahead, and after I left police reached the same opinion. The police kept the EDL marchers kettled on the side street for some hours after their leaders had packed up and left. When the Met found that the RMT were unwilling to let the EDL marchers onto trains they arrested most of them and took them in vans to various police stations where they were released in the early hours of Sunday morning.

The EDL had clearly suffered a major defeat and there were posts from many of them on social media of having been made a laughing stock after the event.

Many more pictures from the event on My London Diary at Waltham Forest Defeats the EDL.


Bike Theft, Tributes, Housing Benefit, Fascists & UAF

Saturday, April 1st, 2023
Bike Theft, Tributes, Housing Benefit, Fascists & UAF

Saturday 1st April 2017 turned out to be a busy day in London, though the buses in my picture on Westminster Bridge were not then going anywhere – and the driver of the No 12 at the front of this row was taking a rest from his seat. Various protests and the police had brought traffic to a stop. As in many other months you can see more of my pictures taken as I travelled around in a London Images section.


Motorcycle Theft Protest Ride – Westminster

Bike Theft, Tributes, Housing Benefit, Fascists & UAF

I’d vaguely wondered about paying another visit to the Ace Café on the North Circular Road at Stonebridge, but not riding a bike I would have felt something of an outsider, and the journey back to central London by the Bakerloo line wold have taken me around 40 minutes and I would have missed other things that were happening.

Organised gangs are still making rich pickings around the whole of London – and one of my neighbour’s had his bike targeted a few months ago, but the two men cutting through a substantial lock were spotted from the house opposite, and ran away when they were challenged halfway through.

Bike Theft, Tributes, Housing Benefit, Fascists & UAF

In 2017 there were reported thefts in London of 8,131 motorbikes, 4,121 moped and 3,218 scooters, a total of almost 15,500 thefts. That amounts to one for every 7.5 powered bikes registered in the city. Motorcyclists came with a petition to the Mayor of London and the Home Secretary to give the police greater resources to tackle this crime, and for them to give it higher priority, for more ground anchors in bike parking bays and for tougher sentencing of offenders.

Motorcycle Theft Protest Ride


Flowers for London Victims – Westminster

Bike Theft, Tributes, Housing Benefit, Fascists & UAF

Ten Days after the Westminster terror attack by a deranged driver, people were still stopping to look and and photograph the flowers for the victims, around the lamp standards on Waterloo Bridge, along the whole of the front of Parliament Square and in front of New Scotland Yard in its new building on the Victoria Embankment, where an eternal flame also remembers all police who have died while doing their duty.

There was a long strip of tributes along the front of Parliament Square opposite were PC Keith Palmer was killed to him and the others who died.

More pictures Flowers for London Victims.


Youth protest over housing benefits loss – Parliament Square

A grass roots group of young people, ‘#1821Resist’, were in Parliament Square to protest against the scrapping of housing benefit for young people which coming into force on this day.

They say that under Tory rule since 2010 homelessness has doubled and that this change will continue to leave vulnerable people without homes, making it almost impossible for them to get into work or education.

Youth protest over housing benefits loss


Iraqis protest US killing in Mosul – Downing St

Iraqis, mainly women dressed in black, were protesting opposite Downing St against the killing of civilians by US and Iraqi forces during the assault on Mosul. Attacks on the city, then held by the Islamic State (ISIL) begun in October 2016 and continuing until ISIL were defeated there in July 2017. According to Wikipedia (and the BBC) “The battle was the world’s single largest military operation since the 2003 invasion of Iraq and was considered the toughest urban battle since World War II.”

The women said that hundreds have been killed by US air strikes after being told to stay in Mosul; people were stopped from leaving were then bombed. The protest was organised by a group of Iraqi women, one of whom told me a nine-year old relative in Mosul had died earlier today. The photographs they held up showed some of the results of the US bombing.

Iraqis protest US killing in Mosul


Britain First & EDL exploit London attack – Westminster

Extremist right-wing groups including Britain First and the EDL (English Defence League) were quick to exploit the London terror attack to fuel their anti-Muslim and anti-migrant racist propaganda, both organising marches. Police had imposed restrictions on both marches confining them to particular short routes to rally points on the Emabankment. London Antifascists and Unite Against Fascism (UAF) who had come to opposed them were only allowed to hold a static protest.

I was able to photograph Britain First at their designated meeting point in the taxi area outside Charing Cross station where their leader Paul Golding arrived with a van full of flags and handed them out, while his deputy Jayda Fransen was busy talking to the media.

The EDL were supposed to be meeting in Trafalgar Square, but were actually gathering in their usual pub, Lord Moon of the Mall, close to the top of Whitehall. Police were busily and rather forcefully keeping back a crowd of antifascists against the shops on the opposite side of the road, injuring a few of them in the crush. Police behind them were shouting at them to go forward, but police in front were preventing them from doing so.

I photographed the EDL on the pavement in front of the Lord Moon of the Mall over the shoulders of a line of police protecting them, but left as police pushed them back inside the pub and returned to Britain First at Charing Cross station where they were getting ready to march.

There were few people on the street as they marched down to the Embankment for a rally, but a couple of women shouted at them calling them racists. Police stopped the marchers from moving towards them, but they had to refuse a Britain First fake-news team who tried to stop them for an interview.

I listened to the rally for a few minutes then tried to go back up Northumberland Avenue to photograph the EDL march, but it was hard to see for police surrounding it. The police quickly went to grab one woman who started to shout at this march.

But the police relaxed their cordon when the marchers reached their rally pen on the Embankment and I was able to walk past them and began to take pictures.

But after a couple of minutes one of the stewards saw me and objected to me being their and called on the police to remove me, after which I had to photograph over the shoulders of the police. One of the officers came to tell me off for having been in with the marchers, but I simply told her I had every right to be there. Shortly after I decided to leave as I had taken enough pictures, and I decided to go to photograph the counter-protesters.

More at Britain First & EDL exploit London attack.


UAF protest extreme right marches

Police had decided that the UAF could only hold a static protest on the Embankment rather than their intended and already advertised march to there from South Africa House in Trafalgar Square, despite ‘facilitating’ the two extreme-right marches. The UAF had turned up at South Africa House on the morning and police had slowly with unnecessary force pushed them down the march route as I’d witnessed earlier in the day.

From the EDL rally I could see and just hear the Unite Against Fascism rally taking place perhaps a hundred yards away down the Embankment, shouting ‘Fascist Scum off our streets’ and other slogans. From the speeches I had heard at the two right-wing rallies both groups were clearly racist and Islamophobic and among the marchers I recognised many faces from clearly fascist organisations I had photographed in the past.

I could see and hear that there were speeches at the UAF rally but not make out what was being said from the distance and over the noise. I tried to walk down towards the UAF but police would not let me take the short direct route despite my showing my press card.

I had to walk back and out onto Whitehall and then around to get to be back of the UAF rally, and by the time I got there many of the counter-protesters had left for home and the speeches had ended, though there were still rather more around than at the two right-wing rallies combined.

UAF protest extreme right marches


9/11 Remembered: 2010

Saturday, September 11th, 2021

September 11th 2001 was a Tuesday and I had been teaching all morning and was picking up my bike from where I kept it safely in the caretaker’s store to go home just before 2pm when a colleague who had previously lived in New York came in extremely agitated to break the news to me of an attack on the World Trade Center there. I rushed with her to her office a short way along the corridor and watched with her the news unrolling on the screen of her desktop computer, sharing her horror.

American Airlines flight 11 had been piloted into the north tower at 8.46am, and while we were watching news came through of the second plane, United Airlines flight 175 hitting the south tower at 9.03am.

I was then as well as a little part-time teaching working full-time as a freelance providing content about photography for an American web giant and knew that I had to find out more and particularly more pictures and write about the event. I cycled home, switched on my computer and started searching, not the news agencies and papers but for first person accounts and photographs by those who had been inside or close to the twin towers when the planes hit.

Social media was very much in its infancy in 2001, but I knew that people would be posting their experiences and some photographs in various forums on line, and I was soon able to find some. Normally I would have contacted people and asked for permission to use their images and text, but there wasn’t time for this, and I mainly linked to their posts with just short quotes and wrote about the pictures in these.

It was the first major news event where most of the immediate content was posted by the people involved, citizen reporting. Most of the pictures were snatched on phones and their blurred and poorly framed images gave them an authentic quality that more professional results would have lacked, rather like those ten or eleven frames snatched by a shaking Robert Capa lying cold and wet on a Normandy beach.

I don’t think the post I made a few hours later has survived – at least I can’t find a copy of it, but I doubt if it was one of my better written or more interesting pieces. But however ephemeral it did meet the occasion and within 24 hours had been read by over a million viewers, more than ten times my normal viewing figures, and the biggest immediate response of anything I wrote in the seven years I worked on the site.

The EDL returned to protest against the Muslims and the press.

This year, 20 years on, there are going to be plenty of films, TV programmes and magazine and newspaper articles about 9/11 and still a few clinging to the discredited conspiracy theories that quickly sprung up around it. But there seem to be few if any live events taking place in London to remember those who died other than a private gathering for families who lost relatives on Saturday 11th.

In 2010 the event became controversial when both the EDL and Muslims Against the Crusades decided to remember it. The EDL came first, marching to pay their respects to those killed on 9/11 at the Grosvenor Square memorial, going on for a brief stop at the American Embassy before going on to protest at the Saudi Embassy.

Later in the day around a hundred extremist Muslims from Muslims Against the Crusades, a fringe group led by Anjem Choudary, arrived at the US Embassy. As a response to Florida pastor Terry Jones’s threat to burn the Qur’an on the anniversary of 9/11, they had called for the day to be made ‘International Burn The American Flag Day’ and for groups around the world to burn the US flag, which they see as a symbol of unbelief and of war – military, ideological, social and economic – against the Muslim religion. I don’t think anyone else followed there lead and they found the flag hard to set alight despite lighter fuel being poured on it.

The EDL came back to shout and threaten the Muslims, but fortunately police were able to keep the two groups apart. I’m still unsure why Choudary was allowed to carry on his activities for so long without arrest, but the suggestion that he was used by MI5 to attract Muslim extremists so they could be easily identified seems likely.

More on My London Diary:

EDL Protest Against MAC
Muslims Against Crusades Burn US Flag
EDL Remember 9/11


All photographs on this and my other sites, unless otherwise stated, are taken by and copyright of Peter Marshall, and are available for reproduction or can be bought as prints.


Tower Hamlets Against the EDL

Tuesday, September 7th, 2021

On Saturday 7th September 2013 the English Defence League led by Tommy Robinson tried to march into Tower Hamlets. Police had laid down strict conditions for their protest which included an exact route for their march, a limit on length of the rally in Aldgate and a prohibition on going across the border of the CIty of London into Tower Hamlets.

When I arrived well before their march was due to start those EDL supporters present were generally in a good mood and happy to pose for the press and we were able to move and photograph freely. Gradually things got a little edgier, though I was still able to photograph standing next to Tommy and the other leaders when they arrived.

Then the police arrived in large numbers, surrounding the marchers and moving the press away from them. Photography of the march when it began was difficult, with police stopping us going close to it. I was able to take some pictures with a longer lens than I like to use, but police kept moving us further and further away, preventing us from doing our job.

I gave up, and went away in search of the anti-fascists who I knew would be trying to disrupt the march, and had set off some smoke flares in the distance. Police had blocked their route with police vans and were keeping them kettled several hundred yards from the march route. The EDL were still some distance away when I walked out past the police at the north end of the group of protesters to go down a side street and join the EDL. I wasn’t stopped there but did have to show my press card to go through two other police lines before getting fairly close to the march.

I joined on to a small TV crew and we found a raised position from where we could photograph the marchers as they came up to Aldgate, and was then able to move to where I could see the rally beginning. Fortunately I managed to get close enough to make some decent pictures with my short telephoto zoom, working on DX format to get a longer equivalent focal length of arond 158mm. I liked using DX format on the full-frame Nikon D800E as it allowed me to see what was happening outside the image frame and still gave an entirely usable 15Mp image.

I soon tired of hearing the angry and ill-informed Islamophobic speech by Robinson (and the racist comments from the crowd) and moved away. It wasn’t easy to get past the half a dozen police lines between the rally and the people who had come to Whitechapel to oppose the march, even with a UK Press Card and I had to find a senior officer or try again on the other side of the road in some places to get through.

Here a large crowd had gathered including many from Tower Hamlets including the then mayor and many councillors as well as religious leaders, and they were supported by trade unionists and others from across London. The atmosphere here was so different from the hate a block to the west with people defiant but in good spirits and happy to be photographed.

The huge police presence kept the groups apart, and prevented all but a very few minor incidents, and without them there would certainly have been a great deal of violence on the streets with the EDL being heavily outnumbered and forced to flee. It would have been something like a repeat of the humiliating defeat of Mosley and his fascists in 1936 when the police tried to force the march through, but failed. Although this time the police did make the EDL march possible, they also very sensibly stopped it on the edge of the City before it could reach Tower Hamlets.

More text and pictures on My London Diary:

EDL March returns to Tower Hamlets (or rather it tried to but didn’t quite make it)
Anti-Fascists Oppose EDL
Tower Hamlets United Against the EDL



One Law for All

Sunday, June 20th, 2021

Islam is now the UK’s second largest religion, with 2018 Office of National Statistics figures for Great Britain of 3,372,966, around 5.2% of the population, still considerably lower than the 36 million who declared themselves Christian in the 2011 census.

Along with the rise in numbers we have also seen a dramatic rise in Islamophobia, partly driven by the exploitation of the fear and hate against the terrorism of small groups of extremists here as well as in the US and France, and more recently by the rise of ISIS in Syria – where many of those who fought against and defeated ISIS there were also Muslims.

The ‘Prevent’ strategy introduced by the Labour Government after the London bombings as an aspect of counter-terrorism was essentially aimed at de-radicalising young Muslims through community-based programmes. It stigmatised the entire Muslim community – and did so at a time when extreme right-wing organisations were growing strongly and provoking racial tensions, and removed any real attention from their illegal behaviour – and the terrorist threat they posed.

The coalition government changed ‘Prevent’ radically. No longer was it concerned with attempts to promote integration though community programmes but shifted to a police-led system to indentify individuals who might be vulnerable to ‘radicalisation’ and to provide intervention packages for them. Unfortunately there seem to be no reliable indicators of such vulnerability.

The 2015 Counter-Terrorism and Security Act (CTSA) made it a legal duty for “teachers, doctors, social workers and others to monitor and report people they consider vulnerable to extremism, embedding discrimination in public services.” As https://www.libertyhumanrights.org.uk/fundamental/prevent/ Liberty point out, “The definition of extremism under Prevent is so wide that thousands of people are being swept up by it – including children engaging in innocuous conduct, people protesting climate change, and a nurse who began wearing a hijab.” They say the Prevent duty must be scrapped.

One Law for All, a campaigning organisation against religious based laws and in defence of equality and secularism, and in particular calling on the UK government to put an end to all Sharia courts and religious tribunals, and had organised a rally opposite Downing St om Sunday 20th June 2010.

Although the Church of England’s courts are now restricted to matters inside the church, courts based on Islamic Sharia Law and Jewish Beth Din courts still have official recognition as arbitration tribunals, particularly related to marriage. The Jewish courts work under the principle that “the law of the land is the law”, giving precedence to English law, but this is not always the case with Sharia courts.

A small group of Muslims dressed in black with a very powerful public address system had come to oppose the One Law for All protest. The claimed to be ‘Muslims Against the Crusades’ or ‘Muslims Against Crusaders’, a group widely thought to be a reincarnation of the banned ‘Islam4UK’ (itself a relaunch of the banned Al-Muhajiroun.)

Maryam Namazie of One Law for All made clear they were not anti-Muslim:

“The battle against Sharia law is a battle against Islamism not Muslims, immigrants and people living under Sharia law here or elsewhere. So it is very apt for the Islamists to hold a counter-demonstration against our rally. This is where the real battleground lies. Anyone wanting to defend universal rights, secularism and a life worthy of the 21st century must join us now in order to push back the Islamists as well as fringe far Right groups like the English Defence League and the British National Party that aims to scapegoat and blame many of our citizens for Islamism.”

And around 20 members of that fringe right-wing group the EDL were there to protest against the Muslims.

After a while police took them to one side and searched them, threatening me with arrest when I went to take pictures, before leading them away.

Half an hour later several hundred young British Asians arrived from a rally in Whitechapel against the EDL – but they were too late to confront them as the EDL had already been removed by police.

Soon the One Law for All rally ended and they marched off towards the Iranian Embassy in Kensington. I walked with them to Victoria and then went home.

UAF Arrive to Oppose EDL
EDL Oppose Muslims Against Crusades
Muslim Crusaders For Sharia
No Sharia – One Law For All