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European “Counter-Jihad” Meeting: A dangerous New phase in extremist politics


The English Defense League (EDL) is a far-right anti-immigration, anti-Muslim organization comprised overwhelmingly of young white men deeply pessimistic about the future.

Since its founding in 2009, the group has held a series of street demonstrations deliberately targeting neighborhoods with significant Muslim populations. The protests have often been marred by violence, racism, virulant Islamophobia, and frequest arrests.

Outreach is increasingly sophisticated, and their mission is global in scope. Next month’s meeting in Denmark may usher in a dangerous new phase in their quest for a fascist, worldwide “counter-jihad.”


by Kevin Rawlinson & Paul Cahalan, The Independent

They achieve notoriety through a mix of combustible characters and often ugly protests, yet are kept on the political margins due to infighting and ill thought-out policies. But, next month, at a meeting in Denmark, some of Europe’s most notorious right-wing groups will meet for the European Counter-Jihad Meeting.

Those attending could witness the birth of a right-wing movement, the European Defence League – and the beginning of a dangerous new phase in extremist politics.

Representatives from defence leagues in Denmark, Sweden, Norway, the USA, Italy, Poland and Finland are due to attend, along with the anti-Muslim groups Stop Islamisation of Europe, Stop Islamisation of the World and the far-right European Freedom Initiative. It is feared the new umbrella organisation could co-ordinate right-wing activities across Europe while politicising and unifying disparate groups. The idea, which is being championed by the English Defence League (EDL), could be modelled on the European Union – with delegates from participating countries meeting regularly.

Weyman Bennett, spokesman for pressure group Unite Against Fascism, said the meeting in Denmark’s second city, Aarhus, was the first meaningful meeting of such groups – which were looking at the EDL model and to mimic successful right-wing political parties in Eastern Europe, some of which have made it to government. He said:

The Euro-leagues are a new danger. We should not forget that it was the Norwegian Defence League that gave us Anders Breivik. The growth of a Euro-league in a time of economic crisis threatens to resurrect fascist street armies such as those that destroyed European democracies in the 1930s. The development of this network allows fascists and right-wing populists to share ideas, finance and experience in a way that should worry us all.

Mr Bennett added the groups would be using the euro crisis as a way to pull in new members, particularly from the middle classes.

He added: “We used to have a number of disparate groups. Now we are moving to a stage where we have fewer groups but they are more organised and sophisticated.”

Some 50 EDL leaders – whose members have been involved in violent clashes with anti-fascist groups in the past – will travel to the meeting. “This is the first proper European Defence League meet. We have been building bridges for the last two years and this is going to be the launch pad,” said Stephen Yaxley-Lennon, the leader of the EDL, who is also known as Tommy Robinson.

He added the leader of each national defence league would sit on a panel and would meet “every three to four months”. He said: “We will discuss tactics. Each country’s delegates will get time to describe the problems they have. We will try to pool resources. For example, if another defence league wants to run a demonstration in their own country, they are unlikely to get as much media interest as if we were involved, so we would go over there and lend some support.”

Dr Matthew Goodwin, an expert on the far-right at Nottingham University, said a Continent-wide far-right alliance would help extremist groups organise demonstrations, which carry the possibility of violence and provide access to better-resourced and organised groups in eastern and central Europe.

He said:

The strategy is to organise large marches for the media attention and to provoke anti-fascist and Muslim groups, as well as the local population. Wherever these movements go, there is a possibility of violent clashes. With the EDL, there are question marks over where the movement is heading, if not towards elections. This would be an indication of where it sees itself going.

Dr Goodwin added that, historically, the far-right has often tried to build alliances on the Continent. “If there is anything the Breivik experience taught us, it is that the European-level movements, which share ideas and resources, are very dangerous.”

Farooq Murad, secretary general of the Muslim Council of Britain (MCB) said the move was “worrying”. He added the MCB was trying to bring together Muslim groups to counter an increase in Islamophobia.

Last year, Mr Yaxley-Lennon announced that negotiations to set up a political wing of the EDL were at an advanced stage. An alliance with the far-right British Freedom Party was discussed and Mr Yaxley-Lennon said he hoped to stand candidates in the next round of local elections. That deal has not yet been concluded and it is thought that it has met with some resistance among the EDL’s grassroots.

Yesterday, about 600 people travelled to Hyde, Greater Manchester, to take part in an EDL protest against an alleged attack by Asian youths on two white teenagers in the town. Eleven were arrested for minor public order offences.

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  • Steve

    I am aware of the EDL, for a small group of nutters they get a lot of publicity. While I think that protesting about radical islam in the guise of Anjem Choudhary and his rather comical stance (his current project is to impose sharia on India – good luck with that) is entirely laudable the methods of the EDL are not.

  • Believing Atheist


    I think you need to educate yourself about the EDL. I quote:

    “The English Defence League (EDL) is a racist organisation whose main aEDL demonstrations are always accompanied by anti-Muslim chanting and signs. More general racist chants are heard and there have been examples of Hindus and Sikhs being abused and even attacked by EDL supporters.

    “EDL protests have been frequented by members and former members of the BNP, the National Front, the Racial Volunteer Force, the British People’s Party, Blood and Honour and Combat 18. As the fortuned of the BNP have waned, a growing number of that party’s activists, including organisers, have been turning up at EDL events. While the EDL leadership tries publicly to distance itself from these people there is no attempt to stop the racist chanting or the general anti-Muslim abuse.ctivity is street demonstrations against the Muslim community. Although it claims only to oppose Islamic extremism it targets the entire Muslim community and its actions deliberately seek to whip up tensions and violence between Muslim and non-Muslim communities.””

    With so many supporters from football hooligan backgrounds it isn’t surprising that EDL demonstrations and violence go hand in hand.

    Since its inception the EDL has staged over thirty protests across the country at which there have been violent clashes with both anti-fascist protesters and the police, leading to several hundred arrests in total. More than £5 million of taxpayers’ money has been spent on policing these demonstrations. The violence directed at the police has grown in recent protests, for example in Leicester four police officers were put in hospital after they came under attack from EDL supporters armed with bottles, smoke grenades and even firecrackers, which were used to scare police horses.

    In addition there is unquantifiable damage to businesses where the EDL holds protests, both physical damage to premises, fixtures and stock and loss of profits where businesses have to close or customers are put off coming into town. Such losses may not be covered by insurance, or insurance premiums may rise as a result.

  • Zakariya Ali Sher

    Islam isn’t a race, and yet, for some strange reason, all of the Islamophobes seem to focus entirely on Muslims of Arab, Turkish or South Asian descent, even going so far as to target Bahá’í, Hindus, Sikhs and even Christians who just happen to ‘look Muslim.’ Not to mention that the EDL and similar knuckle dragging buffoons often have explicitly racist and anti-immigrant references thrown into their slogans…

    “Burning a turban.” Really? You don’t see that as anti-Middle Eastern in general, seeing as how Sikhs are required to wear turbans, many Hindus (and other Indians for that matter) wear turbans at weddings and the like, and many images of Bahá’u’lláh show him clad in a turban. And that’s not even getting into the EDL’s rather liberal usage of slurs like ‘Paki,’ or their assaults on Muslim women and families…

    One wonders who “Steve” is trying to convince here, himself or other casual readers of the website. It seems to me a rather moot point when we can easily dig up page after page of not only EDL members and supporters but the leaders themselves making blatantly racist, anti-immigration and (perhaps most amusingly of all) anti-Semitic statements. Don’t let the PR fool you, these are guys who hate Islam, hate Muslims, and for the most part, hate anyone who is “non-western” (or more accurately, “non-white”). Of course, since the majority of white Britons don’t share these bigoted world view, I’m willing to wager that the EDL doesn’t hold the most favorable view of their own countrymen. Then again, I suspect your average EDL thug is pretty big on the self-loathing thing anyway.

    Anyone else notice how… well… white all of their delegates are? Yes, yes, I know they make the token sentiments about Hindu oppression in India and the persecution of Arab Christians in the Middle East, but one sees suspiciously few EDL members of Arab, Asian or Afro-Caribbean descent. Same goes for any of those other anti-Muslim parties floating around Europe these days. Ayaan Hirsi Ali was a joke; she wasn’t even taken seriously by her party, not that it’d make much difference with her changing her story every few months after she fled to the US…

    Fact is, the EDL are just so much human flotsam cluttering up the Thames. Thankfully, they hate each other as much as they hate anyone else, and the sheer amount of egos competing for attention in their miserable little circus means that they won’t be organizing any time soon. Especially over there in Europe, where you have centuries of nationalism and rivalry. I cannot imagine that the ENGLISH Defense League would want to lend too much credibility to a French neo-Nazi like le Pen, even if they share a similar hatred towards Jews and Muslims. Nor can I imagine hardcore Protestants lending too much support to an avowedly Catholic pundit like Wilders. And I’m more than content to let them tear each other apart for my amusement, so long as nobody else (and nothing of any particular value) gets hurt in the process.

  • Steve

    “It’s funny that Islamophobes always say that”

    It isn’t just islamophobes. And it happens to be true.

  • JD

    Islam is not a race

    It’s funny that Islamophobes always say that, and yet you vociferously attack Arabs and Asian Muslims with a particularly vicious glee. In fact, you guys single out non-Muslims like Copts, Sikhs, Hindus, Greeks and even Latinos on the presumption that they are Muslim because they have dark skin. If I had a pound for every time I’ve heard an EDL thug rant about ‘wogs’ or ‘Pakis,’ I’d be a very rich man indeed.

  • Steve

    “The rise of the EDL reminds me of it’s increasingly close parallels with the rise of the Nazis in Germany”


  • Steve

    Islam isn’t a race. It is entirely possible to not like islam and not be racist.

    The EDL isn’t a white supremacist organisation.

  • Anj

    Steve why has Roberta Moore left the edl and said they are antisemitic?
    What has the British Jewry say about the edl?
    They are a bunch of facists

  • QulifiedAgnostic

    The rise of the EDL reminds me of it’s increasingly close parallels with the rise of the Nazis in Germany.

  • Rajesh

    Sounds like European terrorists in the making. Muslims should stage their own counter white supremacist/counter western radicals conference.
    Steve is being very dishonest. How asinine to ask what “race” are Muslims when its crystal clear that the vast majority of them are from racial minority groups i.e. non-white. No different then asking what “race” Hindus and Sikhs are.

  • JD

    Yes and here is the Mission statement of the KKK

    We do not promote illegal activities in any form. We are not a hate group. We oppose criminal activities being committed period.

    What the Klan stands for:

    The White Race: the irreplaceable hub of our Nation, our Christian Faith, and high levels of western culture and technology.

    America first: first before any foreign or alien influence or interest.

    What we support:

    Adopting laws requiring immediate deportation of all illegal aliens with any appeals to be made from their native land at their expense, not taxpayers.

    Construction of military bases along the Mexican border and the use of military force to patrol the border. This would provide troops with practical experience and save money now being spent on training exercises.

    Creating a three-tiered school system with white schools, black schools, and integrated schools thus allowing freedom of choice to attend the school of preference. This would ease tension and disciplinary problems that now prevent learning because students and teachers fear physical attack by students who are forced into an environment that is strange and uncomfortable to them.

    Passing legislation to prevent discrimination against whites by the courts.

    Building and maintaining a strong U.S. military. Keeping foreign intelligence (CIA) and domestic intelligence (FBI) operations strong. Providing them both with effective tools and sufficient manpower to investigate and control Communist and terrorist activity worldwide.

    The promotion and advancement of sound local, state, and national government.

    The promotion and advancement of constitutional principles of freedom and justice even for white people.

    Preservation of state’s rights and national sovereignty, America first.

    The advancement of all other principles of limited government as defined by the authors of the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution, and the Bill of Rights.

    Promoting an informed electorate through political education and publication of candidate’s positions on issues.

    Rigid law enforcement with swift trail and punishment suitable to the crime.

    Enforcement of capital punishment.

    Stricter enforcement of child abuse laws, rape laws and of other crimes of violence.

    Strict enforcement of anti obscenity, indecency and pornography laws.

    Reinstatement of voluntary prayer in public schools.

    Neighborhood schools.

    Retaining Americanism vs Communism as a required subject.

    Reinstatement of the traditional 3 R’s in public school system, including the phonics system.

    Home education. Fiscal responsibility at all levels of government. Balanced budgets.

    A national strategy of peace through strength. A ban on direct or indirect transfer of American technology, loans, trade credits, grants and “most favored nations” status to Communist and Non-Christian Nations.

    KKK mission statement is quite clear. Wow that great people they are not at all racist at all
    I am going to go apply right now and Brb to tell you the results and If i got accepted

  • Steve

    “So the majority of EDL supporters are anti-immigrant and anti-Muslim.”

    Yet the EDL mission statement is quite clear.

    I am sure plenty of the EDL supporters are thoroughly unpleasant people and I don’t agree with their methods.

  • mindy1

    Who pays attention to these nuts?

  • Believing Atheist


    You need to stop the propoganda for the EDL. It doesn’t matter what the EDL says. All that matters is who they represent, and what they do.

    “EDL supporters are young, male and anti-immigration, says survey
    Research into English Defence League finds pessimism about UK’s future, job worries and antipathy to Islam and Muslims”

    So the majority of EDL supporters are anti-immigrant and anti-Muslim.

    I quote:

    “On the one hand, it tells us that the EDL is rallying supporters who are similar to those supporting the extreme right elsewhere in Europe: economically pessimistic and insecure working-class men who are most likely to feel threatened by changes such as immigration and minority Muslim communities.” (from the same source).

  • And — its a safe bet that Europol, Interpol, and national security and police forces don’t care about the new level of this threat to peace and security in Europe.

    The reality is that this is a threat to the peace and security in Europe and in each and every European nation that this cancer travels to and live in.

    This is not “free speech” and it certainly is not “normal politics.” This is a real European security threat. Islam is not the security threat. Muslims are not the security threat. Think to how the National Socialist Underground in Germany continue to kill and kill … and how Breivik was able to be undetected: They’re not Muslims or immigrants.

    It’s also a safe bet that Europol and national police and security agencies will hide their heads or continue to believe in the notion that “Islamism and jihad” by people with brown skin and from “strange lands” are the “big threats.”

  • Steve

    “The EDL claims it isn’t a racist organisation but Lennon is then caught on film issuing a threat against all Muslims.”

    What race is muslim?

  • Steve

    You can read the EDL mission statement here:

  • JD

    The EDL claims it isn’t a racist organisation but Lennon is then caught on film issuing a threat against all Muslims.

    “Every single Muslim watching this on Youtube on 7/7, you got away with killing and maiming British citizens, you got away with it. You had better understand that we have built a network from one end of this country to the other end, and we will not tolerate it, and the Islamic community will feel the full force of the English Defence League if we see any of our citizens killed, maimed or hurt on British soil ever again.”

  • JD

    English Defence League (EDL) leader Stephen Lennon revealed his true colours last night when he was filmed telling a Muslim security guard that he was from Norway and he will “shoot him”.

    In a late night drinking binge in Luton town centre, Lennon was caught on camera telling a security guard to “f*** off”. When the man, who was simply walking past, said that not all Muslims were bad, Lennon replied “No I know they’re not all bad, just most of them.”

    Then, as Lennon was about to walk away he said “I’m only joking … Other than Breivik coz he’ll shoot ‘em al.”

    Smiling into the camera Lennon boasted “I’m from Norway and I’ll shoot you” – a clear identification with Norwegian mass murderer Anders Breivik.

  • Believing Atheist


    That’s not what the Telegraph says about the EDL. The Telegraph says the EDL is Anti-Islamic. So you’re right in one sense. EDL is not anti-Muslim, it just hates their beliefs, their rituals and their legal code.

    Also the EDL supports the anti-Muslim and anti-immigrant rhetorics of Geert Wilders

    “The EDL has held one European rally before, sending members to Amsterdam in 2010 in support of Dutch anti-Islamic politician Geert Wilders, who was in court accused of insulting religious and ethnic groups.” (from the same source).

  • JD

    EDL’s paramilitary splinter group member: “I have got guns. I want to shoot Muslims in the head.”

    Here is a good site

    Exposing The English Defence League

  • Steve

    Not closely at all. I daresay some its supporters will be anti immigration and/or anti-muslim but the same could be said for all manner of groups. The EDL itself isn’t anti-immigration or anti-muslim.

  • JD

    “So what are you doing on Bornfire night?”

    “Burning Korans”

    “Burning turbans”

    “Burning Anjem Choudarys house with his entire family inside”

    This blog entry is a short sharp examination of an inherent problem within the English Defence League. A peaceful protest movement could be seen as always having a small minority radical element, but the EDL’s use of social networking showcases a catalogue of racism, calls for violence, religious hatred and support for high level criminality and terrorism from their supporters. As discussed in a piece asking why the EDL refused to condemn the recent arson attack on a Stoke Mosque, the following quotes force us to ask are they naively ignoring their problem or facilitating it?

    “Who’s up for petrol bombing the Mosques in the name of England we didn’t win the world war twice for nothing. 10 points for killing a Muslim, first to 1000 wins”

    “Build a bonfire, build a bonfire put Allah on the top shuv all the Muslims in the middle and we will burn the f**kin lot”

    “Demos are like words. Talk is cheap… burn the mosques down is the answer”

    “F**k off Habz ya smelly Muslim c**t. I’ll f**kin set fire to your Mosque and burn all you c**ts inside”

    “Make the dirty Paki eat f**king Mcdonalds, make him sit and watch as you burn the Quaran outside his f**kin house”

    “Little Paki c**t we will find you and cut out your tongue”

    “Address of one of the c**ts that burned the poppies, feel free to burn his house down with his family inside while attaching him to a cross with barbed wire. Cover him in petrol then burn him”

    “Some one pay for my train from Leeds and I’ll pop round and see our little rag head friend, I’ll burn his f**king house down with him and his family in it. Piece of shit. Ur going be byes. Ns!!!!!”

    “Best get me some petrol and camera out, set fire to a Mosque while they’re praying, get some fantastic pics then!!”


    “I might chuck a bomb in a Mosque that will teach the rag head c**ts”

    “There was a news warning in London today of a car bomb parked outside a Mosque, police have said “don’t worry, we’ve managed to push it inside”


    “Ok, how about a compromise, instead of turning ground zero into a Mosque. Lets turn a few Mosques into ground zero”

    “We should burn a Mosque for every Poppy burnt and every remark against our British troops nothing will be done to tackle these disgusting people”

    “Need 2 get an English suicide bomber 2 walk into a mosque 2 show them we aint afraid 2 be daft either”

    “Genocide is the only option against this race. The world needs to unite and put an end to Islam once and for all”

    “We only need one to put our message across, they burn one poppy, we burn one mosque it’s as simple as that.”

    All our quotes are supported by screen shots taken from English Defence League social networking sites

  • @Steve

    How closely have you been following what EDL members have been saying over the years?

  • Steve

    “The English Defense League (EDL) is a far-right anti-immigration, anti-Muslim organization”

    It isn’t anti-immigration or anti-muslim. It is against radical islam

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