• Thousands march in support of tolerance
  • Scores of EDL troublemakers arrested

Thousands of East Enders stood firm yesterday (4 Sep 2011) and saw off the threat of more than 1,000 hooligans from the English Defence League (EDL) attempting to march on the borough of Tower Hamlets.

The banned EDL march took place on the cusp of the 75th anniversary of the Battle of Cable Street, when the local Jewish community and trade unionists saw off the threat of tens of thousands of Oswald Moseley’s Blackshirt fascists. Now, as then, our community and our friends stood firm against hatred.

Over 10,000 people rallied against the EDL throughout the day in the Whitechapel area, celebrating ‘No Place for Hate’ under the banner of the United East End (UEE). Speaker after speaker from groups representing Muslims, Jews, Christians, trade unionists, local politicians, artists and musicians vowed the EDL would not bring their hatred to Tower Hamlets.

Volunteers from the Islamic Forum of Europe (IFE) provided exemplary stewarding and helped keep calm throughout the day, despite an attempt by a coachload of EDL supporters to harass worshippers at the East London Mosque in the early evening.

Thugs stopped

The EDL had gathered in pubs in various locations in the City, including King’s Cross and Liverpool Street station, and were then escorted by police to hold a ‘static’ demonstration near Aldgate (City of London). Smoke bombs, bottles and other missiles were hurled by EDL thugs at the police and scuffles broke out, as police tried to maintain order. 60 EDL members were arrested; 16 for “assault on a police officer, common assault, drunk and disorderly and affray” and another 44 for “suspicion of violent disorder”.

EDL leader, convicted soccer thug Stephen Yaxley-Lennon, broke bail conditions (for hooligan-related offences) to lead the demo, disguised somewhat bizarrely as a rabbi. Only recently, more than 600 members of the group had been closely-linked with the far-right extremist, Anders Behring Breivik, who killed 77 people in Norway in July. Shortly before his bombing and shooting spree, Breivik had emailed copies of a 1,500 page “manifesto” to EDL and other far-right individuals across the UK, and had admitted to visiting the UK several times. A known EDL leader was recently interviewed by Norwegian police in connection with the Breivik slayings.


Acting borough commander for the Metropolitan Police, Robert Revill, commended stewards from the IFE and London Muslim Centre for their hard work on the day. “It was amazing to see the way they controlled very tense situations, I wish I had some of them in the police force!”

Mayor Luthfur Rahman thanked all for attending the UEE celebration, saying: “This is a wonderful gathering and a show of our diversity.” The EDL “would never be able to break us with their hatred and Islamophobia,” he said.

Glyn Robbins, acting chair of UEE, said: “We denied the EDL in 2010, we have denied them space today too… There will never be an okay time for the EDL to come to Tower Hamlets because this place is a ‘No Place for Hate’.”

Also speaking at the event, East London Mosque Executive Director, Dilowar Khan, added: “The EDL have been inciting hatred towards Muslims for many years… They consider the East London Mosque to be at the heart of extremism – you are here now – you can witness for yourself whether we are extremists or not. We want to live in peace with the rest of society, and Muslims are part of this society.”

Speaking about how the EDL tried to stir-up hatred, chair of Tower Hamlets Interfaith Forum, Revd. Alan Green, rejected claims that non-Muslims were apparently unsafe to walk the streets of Tower Hamlets: “I tell you we most certainly do walk these streets – and we don’t walk them on our own, we walk them together with everyone else who lives here.”

Saturday’s events were the second time the EDL had attempted to march on the area; in June last year they failed to turn up after more than 5,000 locals took to the streets to protect shops and the community.


United East End 03/09/2011