Two years ago a leaked British intelligence report identified the town as being home to one of the main concentrations of extremists in the country.
It has a long and troubled history. In 2004 two of the most notorious terrorist cells in British history met at the Toddington service station just north of Luton.
The leaders of the fertiliser bombers, who were plotting a campaign to rival September 11 terror attacks, and the July 7 bombers met on at least two occasions, watched by MI5.
The middle man, Mohammed Quayam Khan, was on the surface of model of respectability. He worked as a taxi driver and at a café in the centre of Luton and lived with his children in the Bury Park district, a largely Muslim area.
At the same time, however, he was allegedly liaising with al-Qaeda and helped them to set up a training camp in Pakistan. He has never been arrested.
The July 7 bombers, based in West Yorkshire, met in Luton on the day of the attacks in 2005, abandoning their cars at the station to catch the train south.
Many Muslims in Luton have long recognised the problem they have with extremism.
In 2001 two young men were killed fighting in Afghanistan, one of whom was the brother of Salahuddin Amin, a member of the fertiliser bomber gang.
At one stage Abu Hamza, the radical cleric now in jail, is said to have lived in the town and Omar Bakri Mohammed, another extremist, was a regular visitor until he was banned from returning to Britain soon after the July 2005 bombings.
The concentration of extremists has exacerbated racial tensions. In March 2009, soldiers from the Royal Anglian Regiment were marching through Luton when they were subjected to a tirade of abuse from a group of Muslim men who called them murderers, rapists and baby killers. Five of the men were later convicted of being abusive.
In May 2004 nine people were arrested after a nationalist group, March for England, held a protest.
On Sunday it emerged that Terry Jones, a self-style pastor who threatened to burn copies of the Koran on the aniversary of the September 11 attack had been invited to speak at an English Defence League rally in Luton.