Anti-Islamists and anti-fascists rally in UK

Several thousand of the English Defense League’s supporters gathered on Saturday in the English town of Luton to protest against Islam, while a few hundred meters away there was a demonstration by an anti-fascist group.

As the British Prime Minister David Cameron spoke in Munich about the failure of multiculturalism, urging the minority groups living in the UK to do more to integrate, the English town of Luton braced itself for a march of the far-right group – the English Defense League.

The League was founded in Luton 18 months ago after extremist Muslims, who started settling in the town, began their own protest against soldiers coming home from Afghanistan. It was then that the EDL founders decided it was worth getting together to protest against the “Islamification” of the UK. Since its foundation, the league has held about 30 marches in many cities across the country.

The EDL considers immigrants to be the most dangerous threat for their country. Though they acknowledge that there are a lot of different minorities living in peace in the UK, they condemn Islam as a religion they find extremist by its nature.

However, many see a certain extent of extremism in the league itself. Luton residents claim that some of the league members are just football hooligans. Still, the league has submitted an official bid to become a legitimate association. They are trying to get the violence and football hooliganism under control in order to eventually attract more people to their organization.

Saturday’s march appeared to be the EDL’s biggest ever. RT correspondent Laura Emmett estimated that over 3,000 EDL supporters gathered in the town’s square.

The EDL members are very diverse. Their ranks include Sikhs, Jews and black people. EDL supporters came from a number of countries to participate in the Luton march. Citizens from France, Holland, Germany, Sweden and Norway were said to be among the demonstrators. Such variety allows the EDL leaders to say that the league expresses general sentiment, not only issues of concern to Luton or the UK.

Supporters of the movement Unite Against Fascism demonstrated close to the EDL’s gathering. They called for inclusion, and for everyone to live in peace and harmony. The police kept the two rival factions apart, but the groups nonetheless moved slowly toward each other, raising fears of a clash.

The police were already out in force by the early morning. RT’s correspondent estimated that some 2,000 police were out on Luton’s streets, and parking areas were full of police vans. At least $1.2 million was spent by the police on securing the protest. And the operation appeared to be successful: only two people were arrested during the marches, and no notable violence was witnessed.

Despite the huge police presence, many Luton residents nevertheless opted to stay away from the groups.

There was also another gathering of around a thousand people where the main Luton mosque is located.

Looking at the bigger picture, the events in Luton are a reflection of an EU trend as Europe has had a very open immigration policy in recent years. This sort of welcome has led to the rise of the phobic behavior exposed all over the region. Angela Merkel, Germany’s Chancellor, called the integration of Turkish immigrants into German society “a miserable failure”. Gypsies have been expatriated from France, and in Sweden 57 per cent of people voted to ban the further construction of minarets.

­Multiculturalism is not working in Germany because immigrants do not integrate into work life in the country, argues German immigration officer Arnold Mengelkoch.

“Multiculturalism has failed, for sure, because you cannot let people come into the country and then they find their way into work, when there is not enough work for unskilled people,” he said. “So, if the people all have to work, we would not have such a bad level of integration.”

“Multiculturalism would only function if the people come into the country, have a job, make their own money, and feel responsible for the community,” he added. “Otherwise, with jobless people, if they live a passive life on social welfare, they will not feel responsible for the community, so multiculturalism will continue to fail in Germany.”