One of the first things I noted was the Israeli flag waving in the midst of the EDL folks. Hrm, I thought, what the hell is that doing there? Then I noted the contingent of gays and lesbians marching with them. Funny bedfellows for a group that is supposed to be fascist and racist, I thought. The next thing that struck me was the violence that was occurring and what the police were saying about it…”Today in Bolton we have seen some small evidence of this protest in the form of flag waving and vitriolic name calling – but we have also seen groups of people, predominantly associated with the UAF, engaging in violent confrontation. It is clear to me that a large number have attended today with the sole intention of committing disorder and their actions have been wholly unacceptable. Turning their anger onto police officers they acted with, at times, extreme violence and their actions led to injuries to police officers, protesters and members of the public.” Now when you read newspaper reports covering the incident, you see only the last two sentences of this quote in the coverage.
The police kept announcing that violence had broken out on the UAF side, with police officers being attacked and “12 have been arrested” and then later, “31 protesters from the UAF” were arrested, including the UAF protest organizer, and so on. In total, 67 people were arrested, only 5 of whom were from the EDL. Newspapers are reporting the number of arrests but not the breakdown of who was arrested from each side and they are almost all including statements like the Times article (link below) “The EDL describes itself as a peaceful, non-political group campaigning against “militant Islam”, but a previous rally in Manchester last year turned violent, resulting in 44 arrests and 10 injuries.”
Look at the title of the article from the Times Online: Dozens arrested as anti-Muslim English Defence League protestors battle rivals –dunno but when I read that, I assume that the people arrested were the “anti-Muslim” EDL folks. That’s another thing, this “anti-Muslim” attachment. From what I saw of the signs they carried, and from what I’ve now read on their website, they are not anti-Muslim but anti-extremist-Islam. They are against the institution of Sharia Law in the U.K. They make it quite clear they are not against Muslims but against the radical streams of Islamic thought that fosters and encourages terrorist acts and that seeks to oppress women and homosexuals. Indeed, they have secular Muslims, Indian Sikhs, Gays, Lesbians, and Jews as members.
All of the newspapers included this quote by the Chief of Police, “The police are not and should not be the target of such violence and anger and this protest and the actions of some of the protesters is roundly condemned by GMP and by Bolton Council. Were it not for the professionalism and bravery of police officers many others would have been seriously injured.” But they all, every one of them, leave out his next sentence, “I would also like to praise the efforts of the EDL stewards who worked with us in the face of some very ugly confrontations.”
Now why would that be, do you suppose? I’d never have known there was a smear and marginalization campaign going on in the media against the EDL had I not watched the live coverage of the protest and seen and heard with my own eyes and ears and then seen how the media was reporting on it. I’d have simply continued to buy the “this is a fascist, far-right, extremist, racist” group of people line.