NORTHERN ENGLAND: RESISTANCE TO RIGHT-WING GROUP
Opposition to EDL Rally in Leeds, UK
04 Nov 2009 17:34 GMT
On 31st October 2009 in City Square, Leeds, the English Defence League held a rally. The EDL is a nationalist, islamophobic organisation formed earlier this year and is widely viewed as racist.
A counter-demonstration was organised by Unite Against Fascism (UAF). Participants described it variously as being dull, jubilant and tightly controlled. Meanwhile, other anti-EDL groups attempted to confront EDL directly. Reports suggest that at least two large groups attempted to reach EDL to confront them at City Square, but were turned back towards the UAF rally by police (see time-line for first-hand accounts).
Reports from the area around City Square were that most of the EDL supporters didn't go into their pen. Some were held between police lines and others regrouped on Boar Lane, before being brought back to the railway station by the police. Another group of EDL marched around the Albion Street area and responded violently when challenged about their inflammatory chanting.
The EDL have links to neo-nazis and crusade-fetishists. Most of their propaganda plays on misconceptions of UK foreign and domestic policy fuelled by the main-stream media, such as the myths of the 'Islamification' of Britain and of the necessity of war. They claim to be standing up for the British armed forces, who are correctly criticised for waging an imperialist war of aggression against the populations of Iraq and Afghanistan. Many people view this as a weak excuse for a group of assorted xenophobes to promote their cause.
EDL’s first rally in Luton was banned due to widespread community objections, as was one in Bristol. Rallies in Manchester and Birmingham were both met with overwhelming opposition from local people.
Opposition to the EDL comes from a variety of different political actors. Statists who oppose racism, such as Hope Not Hate and their magazine Searchlight have been criticised by anarchists for not recognising the root causes of racism in the structure of the nation-state. UAF has been criticised by some (including Antifa) as being a vehicle for Trotskyism.
A report of today's events by the BBC quotes police figures of 1500 UAF and 900 EDL supporters. Typically they haven't quoted anyone other than the police, neglecting to report the opinions or motivations of protesters. Anyone reading the Guardian website would have seen no mention of the events in Leeds (checked at 1655h), whilst their lead story suggests the most controversial thing about the war in Afghanistan is whether 'our' troops have enough helicopters.
This report and the associated timeline and videos were collated by Northern Indymedia activists and their friends.
Newswire reports:  |  |  |  |  |  | 
Search Northern Indymedia for tagged material: edl anti-fascism racism
Videos: Antifascists March To The Library | Edl Supporters Arrive From The Train Station | Antifascists Let Off A Flare On March
Time-line: Minute-by-minute eye-witness reports | Map to make sense of despatches
Previous reports: EDL demo in Luton banned | EDL outnumbered in Manchester | Account of EDL Birmingham Demo | EDL refused permission for Bristol demo