What is the English Defence League?
The English Defence League (EDL) is a racist organisation whose main activity is street demonstrations against the Muslim community. Although it claims only to oppose Islamic extremism it targets the entire Muslim community and its actions deliberately seek to whip up tensions and violence between Muslim and non-Muslim communities.
Many of its protests have resulted in violence and it taps into wider anti-Muslim feeling. What started as a loose network of football hooligans is developing into a new social movement.
The EDL emerged in Luton in March 2009 in the aftermath of a protest by a handful of Islamist extremists at the homecoming parade of the Royal Anglian Regiment through the town.
It now has thousands of supporters across the country. What began as a loose alliance of people around various social networking websites is increasingly turning into an organisation with a national, regional and local structure.
With the demise in the fortunes of the British National Party the EDL is now the largest rightwing threat in the UK today, with over 79,000 supporters on Facebook and the ability to bring anywhere from 100 to 3,000 people out onto the streets.