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English Defence League has few supporters left

New Europe | Wednesday, 27 February 2013 | Click here for original article

The English Defence League (EDL) is on the verge of collapse, and the weekend might see the end of the Islamaphobic group, who have a reputation for far right activity and violence.

The group, who used to bring thousands to street protests, have split into several insignificant splinter groups. According to their supporters, Europe is about to become an Islamic state, complete with Taliban like sharia laws.

The group has faced a number of setbacks including the imprisonment of their leader, Stephen Yaxley Lennon for entering the United States on a false passport. Lennon has long campaigned against illegal immigration. His arrest and incarceration did not galvanise his followers, rather it led to a further disintegration of the EDL.

Last weekend, Lennon was released from prison but bail conditions are keeping him away from the group.

As Lennon was released, the EDL held a demonstration in Cambridge, where university reporters gained access to the almost empty pen Police had reserved for the demonstrators, and produced the above video.

After this dismal showing, heavily outnumbered by police and a large counter demonstration, the EDL complained when the police escourted the small crowd to the train station. Members of the EDL complained, claiming that the protestors lived in Cambridge. However, analysis of photos and video shot during the event showed that only one of the protestors was from the area.

The EDL have vowed to return to the city in greater numbers.

The extremists also have another problem.

Their next demonstration is in Manchester on 2 March, but a rival group, the North West Infidels, affiliated with neo-nazis, has vowed to take over the demonstration... as a protest against the EDL leadership.

Experts in monitoring the far-right predict that there will be violence between the two extreme groups.

Ahead of the demonstration, Manchester councillor Afzal Khan wrote in the Manchester Evening News, "

"I believe in free speech. But I believe also that when someone says ‘I have a right to free speech!’, we then have a right to ask them ‘What are you going to use it for?’

"Are you going to use it to call for greater democracy and social justice, as the Peterloo protesters did?

"Are you going to use it to celebrate the diversity of our great city and the contribution of all of our communities, as I and many others will be doing this Friday evening at the HOPE not hate vigil in Manchester Cathedral?

"Or are you going to waste your right to free speech, as the English Defence League do, on racist football chants, and on praise of the murderer Anders Breivik?"

The Mancunian added, "The English Defence League is just another manifestation of the shambles that is the far right in Britain. They were conceived in a £500,000 apartment and shaped by people ideologically opposed to Islam – including a director of a City investment fund and a property developer. These people do not speak for the working class of Great Britain, and they certainly do not speak for Manchester."

Last time the EDL had a demonstration in Manchester taxpayers were left with a £800,000 bill for policing and security costs.

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