Last week, I noted that several of the most prominent organizers of the ugly opposition to the Park 51 project had praised the equally ugly English Defence League (EDL), a racist far-right group in the UK that has been threatening violence for the past year. In the comments, some bigots with British accents insisted that I had it all wrong. These weren't thuggish football hooligans who hate Muslims and other minorities -- they're salt-of-the-earth British patriots and they're being misunderstood.
TheGuardianhas much more on the EDL. Judge for yourself -- here's a brief video (not work safe), and there's text after the jump:
MPs expressed concern tonight after it emerged that far-right activists are planning to step up their provocative street campaign by targeting some of the UK's highest-profile Muslim communities, raising fears of widespread unrest this summer.
Undercover footage shot by the Guardian reveals the English Defence League, which has staged a number of violent protests in towns and cities across the country this year, is planning to "hit" Bradford and the London borough of Tower Hamlets as it intensifies its street protests.
Senior figures in the coalition government were briefed on the threat posed by EDL marches this week. Tomorrow up to 2,000 EDL supporters are expected to descend on Newcastle for its latest protest.
MPs said the group's decision to target some of the UK's most prominent Muslim communities was a blatant attempt to provoke mayhem and disorder. "This group has no positive agenda," said the Bradford South MP, Gerry Sutcliffe. "It is an agenda of hate that is designed to divide people and communities. We support legitimate protest but this is not legitimate, it is designed to stir up trouble. The people of Bradford will want no part of it."
The English Defence League, which started in Luton last year, has become the most significant far-right street movement in the UK since the National Front in the 1970s. A Guardian investigation has identified a number of known rightwing extremists who are taking an interest in the movement – from convicted football hooligans to members of violent rightwing splinter groups.
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