‘the new fascism hates Muslims’

I’ve got a piece up at New Matilda at the moment. It begins like this:

If these aren’t fascists, they’re close enough as to make no difference.

Last week, a shaven-headed gang calling itself the “English Defence League” staged an anti-Muslim rally in Birmingham. On Youtube, EDL supporters had boasted of belonging to “the most organised and ruthless street army in the country”; the scene outside the Birmingham mosque, with football hooligans and skinheads battling local Muslims and anti-racists, seemed to confirm it.

The EDL originated with far-Right bloggers, hallucinogenic types who see evidence of a caliphate in every advertisement for halal kebabs. Its real muscle, however, comes from the soccer hooligan “firms”, yobs who combine beery chauvinism with casual ultraviolence and thus have provided recruits for far-Right thugs for the last 30 years or so.

Significantly, the EDL’s provocations follow the political breakthroughs of the British National Party. The recent European elections saw major gains for far-Right and neo-Nazi groups across the continent. In Britain, the BNP polled more than a million votes under the leadership of Nick Griffin, a Holocaust-denying, alumnus of the old National Front. An advocate of the “suits-not-boots” school of fascism, Griffin struggles, not always successfully, to keep his more unreconstructed seig-heilers under control, and so the hardcore brawlers from the BNP seem to have gravitated to the EDL (and similar groups like Stop the Islamisation of Europe), where they’re at least guaranteed a good ruck.

You can read the rest here.

Jeff Sparrow

Jeff Sparrow is a Walkley Award-winning writer, broadcaster and former editor of Overland.

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