EDL March Sun 22.4.2012

One of the best things about living in Brighton is its diversity and its tolerant nature: everybody is pretty easy going here and everyone is accepted. Which is why I wondered …what exactly brought the English Defence League here?

It’s predicted that the EDL have around 35,000 members in the UK and they are a group who do not claim to be a political party as apparently they ‘know who our masters are.’ Good job to be honest because I didn’t hear anything that articulate or that well-thought out coming from their mouths. Instead it was more like an ugly barking of wolves who didn’t really understand why they were barking or when they were getting fed next (they weren’t allowed in any of the pubs which I think, made their day a bit pointless).

The EDL was formed in 2009 and it says it protests peacefully against the spread of extremist Islamaphobia but it has been heavily criticised for clashes of violence against Unite Against Fascism, the police and left-wing protesters.

I have never marched in protest against anything. It’s not that I can’t be bothered but I’ve never felt against anything so strongly before.

Most people don’t know what they are or what they stand for. The antipathy most feel about the EDL shows a lack of understanding about what this group actually value.

To be honest the EDL looked like a minority of fat, balding, tatooed football fans – and that’s being kind to football fans. The really worrying thing was that there were lots of youngsters in the crowd, boys and girls wrapped in the St George’s flag and distorting the meaning of MY flag, making me ashamed to be connected with the red and white that I should be allowed to be proud of. Lots of them were covered in masks (apparently because lots of them have decent jobs and don’t want to be classed as well, fascists). At least have the gumption to stand up for what you believe in and don’t hide away.

When I asked a very dear friend whether I should go he said ‘Just ignore them. The thing they want is for you to take notice of them.’ And he had a point but surely you can take that too far and then nobody opposes anything.

I took a photo of the 13 year old boy and someone shouted ‘Smile Adolf’. The boy then squared me in the eyes and said ‘I’m only 12’ and then proceeded to call me a paedophile. Very clever mate – can you spell that? No didn’t think so.

One very middle-class girl behind me (what the Brighton anti-fascists are largely made up of) stated that ‘They all look in-bred… I’ve never seen a fascist before.’

And I knew what she meant. I felt very sad standing there looking at the misguided youth of tomorrow who had mixed up patriotism with scaring and terrorizing non-militant Muslims, or sending death threats to journalists. And underneath it all it’s not just extremist Muslims they hate – that’s just the way they try and become credible, they use terrorism (something we all fear) as a smokescreen to pretend they are merely protecting our interests when really they are just spreading hate and division.

What is interesting is that they accept any race, colour or creed into their fraternity to fight for England. But this shouldn’t disguise their true colours: they are like the National Front of the 1970s, albeit with a slightly different colour of blood-red on their St. George’s cross.

A Brighton couple in front of me – two men – were kissing and waving at the crowd. The wolves hated that; they squirmed and sweated at what they were witnessing. So even if the EDL didn’t start out this way, it’s what it has become; a gang that ignorant, hateful people can join and pretend they love their country. Ironically the EDL and the militant Islamic group have many things in common: they preach hate and fear wherever they go and they distort reality to help themselves.

So as ‘There were ten fat fascists standing on the wall’ was being sang absolutely nothing could be heard from the EDL -‘ I don’t think they can speak, they just bark’ I said. But then the nice middle-class girls I was standing with suddenly decided to turn on the police who were forming the barricade between the two groups. ‘Sweaty pig, you hurt my mate earlier..Do you remember that you sweaty pig?’ We were turning into the wolves, I thought..

And as someone started playing ‘Get the bastard coppers out’ everyone just seemed to forget that the EDL were even there. And some were just there for a fight –  it didn’t matter whether it was a policeman or a member of the opposition. And from their point of view, by the end they probably couldn’t tell the difference between the barking on our side and that of the EDL.