Posts Tagged ‘English Defence League’

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


My London Diary : London Photos : Hull : River Lea/Lee Valley : London’s Industrial Heritage : Flickr

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


My London Diary : London Photos : Hull : River Lea/Lee Valley : London’s Industrial Heritage : Flickr


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