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Saturday, 20 November 2010

English Defence League demos "don't fuel extremism"

The Birmingham Mail

Nov 20, 2010, from the Birmingham Mail

FEARS that English Defence League demonstrations are fuelling Islamic extremism are proving unfounded in the Midlands, according to a local councillor.

Muslims in Dudley would reject the temptation of “radicalism” despite abuse from protesters, said Coun Khurshid Ahmed.

His St James’s ward, in Dudley town centre, has seen a number of demonstrations by the English Defence League (EDL) where protesters have gone on to attack a local mosque.

Similar scenes of mindless violence have followed when the group has descended on Birmingham and clashed with police and rival groups.

And there are growing concerns that such events are driving Muslims into the hands of Islamic extremists.

Detective Superintendent John Larkin, from the West Midlands counter-terrorism unit, said: “They look for the hook to pull people through and when the EDL have been and done what they’ve done, perversely they leave that behind.”

However, Coun Ahmed said Muslims in Dudley were not falling prey to counter extremists.

“I agree that such extremism could be a worry when the EDL visits places,” he said.

“But I don’t think that sort of issue is something that is happening in Dudley because it’s long been a peaceful town with a Muslim community.

“Although I can understand Muslims might be tempted to stand up when they get attacked by the EDL and groups like them, but not because they’re extremists, just because they’re defending their religion.

“But I’m more worried about the effect the EDL has on entire communities – not just to Muslims – with their actions and disruption to everybody’s lives.”

The EDL claims that its demonstrators are exercising their democratic rights to protest and that they cannot be held responsible for everybody at the rallies.

Policing minister Nick Herbert has also denounced extremism. “You don’t prevent hatred by being hateful yourself,” he said.


*) Two notes for the writer of this piece. 1) The Birmingham demos didn't follow those at Dudley, it was the other way around. 2) No mosque was attacked in Dudley. It was claimed, at the time, that a Hindu Temple was attacked - but that turned out to be week before the actual demo anyway.

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