Call to ban EDL march through East End after Norway bomber alleged link

08:09 27 July 2011

Anti-fascist alliance in London

Anti-fascist alliance in London's East End


Anti fascism campaigners claiming the English Defence League had links with Norwegian mass-murderer Anders Breivik have joined demands this week to ban their planned march through London’s East End.

The Searchlight campaign is supporting Tower Hamlets MPs, councillors, mayor and London Assembly figures calling on the Home Secretary to stop the EDL coming to Whitechapel on September 3.

The groundswell culminates in a public meeting on Friday at the London Muslim Centre, which is being addressed by the new Bishop of Stepney in his first public role.

Searchlight claims EDL members exchanged emails with the self-confessed Norwegian killer before he went off to prepare for last week’s bombing and shootings in which 76 people died.

“It’s clear the proposed march in Tower Hamlets cannot be allowed,” said Searchlight editor Nick Lowles.

“The Home Office must now formally classify the EDL as an extremist organisation and let police use the same resources to monitor their activity as with other extremist groups.”

The events in Norway have created an atmosphere in East London that Poplar & Limehouse MP Jim Fitzpatrick says makes a ban urgent.

The MP said: “The march will affect public order. It’s better if the EDL didn’t come to the East End—they should keep out.”

He joined Bethnal Green & Bow MP Rushanara Ali in discussions with Home Office minister James Brockenshire last Friday, before the events in Norway, and since written to Home Secretary Theresa May.

The new Bishop of Stepney, The Rt Rev Adrian Newman, addresses Friday evening’s meeting in Whitechapel in which he pledges to support a ban if there’s groundswell demand.

“I am with the people of the East End,” he told the Advertiser. “If the community says it doesn’t want the EDL to spread their message of hate, I stand with them and nail my colours to the mast.”

Mayor Lutfur Rahman has called for the EDL itself to be prescribed as a banned organisation in the light of events in Norway.

“If the Bishop of Stepney has come out against the EDL, we’ll stand shoulder to shoulder with him,” the mayor said.

“The EDL has a history of advocating violence—enough to list them as a prescribed organisation.”

He wrote to the Mayor of Oslo yesterday (Tues) offering “the sympathies of the people of Tower Hamlets in Norway’s time of crisis.”

Tower Hamlets Labour group leader Joshua Peck and London Assembly’s budget chairman John Biggs have also urged the Home Secretary to stop the EDL march.

Cllr Peck said: “Their presence creates a ripple effect of fear and tension which will encourage people onto the streets. We don’t want running battles or the community being whipped up.”

But the EDL said yesterday (Tues) it was determined to go ahead with the march through Whitechapel.

Its spokesman Tommy Robinson insisted: “We are just using our democratic rights for a peaceful protest and free assembly.

“Those streets are English streets on English soil—we go where we want. Tower Hamlets is part of London, our capital.”

He denied any links with the Norwegian bomber and pointed out that Breivik’s 1,500-page ‘manifesto’ described the EDL as “naive fools” who believed in the democratic process.

Yet Breivik boasted of having 600 EDL members as Facebook friends.

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