On the other hand, it is totally wrong to treat the EDL and Islamists as if they were “two sides of the same coin”. The EDL is ignored completely by the media and government even when it riots and attacks police. A Muslim group that did the same would be all over the newspapers for weeks and there would be mass arrests. The ruling class tolerates the EDL and encourages narratives about the suffering “white working class” whereas it sees Islamists as a bitter enemy, and extends this hostility in its propaganda towards Muslims *in general*.
To reduce the EDL and MAC to “hate” is incredibly crude. The EDL and BNP are an expression of racist and imperialist forces in British society: its most reactionary and disgusting elements. Fundamentalist Islamism by contrast, although it is often reactionary, is also presently leading the resistance to imperialism in the Middle East. The burning of poppies is crude and stupid but it expresses, in a misdirected way, the anger of an entire region that has been invaded, occupied and exploited by the west for centuries. Islamism therefore is a contradictory and complex phenomenon that cannot be reduced to “hate”.
The left should not excuse the “poppy burners” but at the same time should avoid jumping onto the imperialist bandwagon of demonising Muslims. On the contrary, it has a duty to defend ethnic and religious minorities against oppression by the British state and to oppose that state’s vicious wars overseas.
By little black sister — 16 November, 2010