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EDL in Hebden Bridge

From John Billingsley

Sunday, 10 June 2012

I noted the English Defence League gathering for something of a rally in HB this afternoon (Sat, 9/6). They'd apparently chosen the Shoulder of Mutton and had a poster up at a window advertising themselves. I've no objection to EDL supporters having a drink where they like, but if I were the proprietor of the Shoulder I wouldn't have been too happy with being identified as a pub apparently tacitly supporting their rally.

Other than that, what's in HB for the EDL? is it just a trip to the country for them? or are they hoping to goad the 'alternative society'?

From Peter Lazenby

Sunday, 10 June 2012

Hebweb readers probably know by now that the English Defence League turned up in Hebden Bridge on Saturday. About 60 of them took over the Shoulder of Mutton and unfurled a banner in St George's Square.

They were challenged by an extremely brave anti-fascist who I won't name here. Police were called and came out in force. They threatened to arrest the anti-fascist for taking photos of the racists. Can anyone who witnessed events post information here please? Anyone else got photos?
I believe the EDL thugs were on their way back from Rochdale where anti-fascists had staged a demo.

I reckon the EDL were making a point - that they can turn up and demonstrate anywhere they want. The fact that Hebden Bridge numbers many active anti-racists among its population is probably a factor.

From Benny M

Monday, 11 June 2012

The EDL and their Facist like rely heavily on publicity any publicity.The best way of dealing with them is to totaly ignore them.To challenge them highlights their revolting existence and to some extent glamourise them to less than enlightened members of society.The local NF presence came and went within a very short period of time. Did the landlord of the Shoulder feel threatened or is he a genuine supporter? Only he can answer that.

From Maureen Brian

Monday, 11 June 2012

You must know, Benny M, that the "ignore them" argument has been deployed before. It didn't work then, either.

You may recall that the "take no notice, stay away" message was all that various authorities had to say about a planned fascist march with became the Battle of Cable Street. So, yes, deploy 10,000 police to protect a set of extremists or learn the lessons lest you repeat them. That shambles in 1936 led to a change in the law preventing private armies. It is also one of the best levers we have still in constantly reminding the police that they must do their job fairly and without prejudice.

The EDL seems unable to manage even as much discipline in their ranks as Mosley did. I have never seen one who wasn't blind drunk and totally incoherent. That doesn't mean we should ignore them.

On the contrary, should any of them ever sober up they need to be told that there are strong arguments against their political analysis and we, all of us, need to have those arguments ready to hand.

From Andrew B

Tuesday, 12 June 2012

I am in no way condoning the EDL, some will agree with their arguments, others will disagree, most will agree that the way they go about doing things is wrong.

A few points I would like to make clear are as follows;

1) Why shouldn't the EDL call into Hebden on their way back from a relatively peaceful rally?

2) What is the difference between the EDL displaying their posters and the people of Hebden displaying banners at the lights to "free Palestine" and the "anti Iraq" rally? It is ultimately peoples opinion and right to free speech.

3) Just because they gathered outside the shoulder, why does that mean the support them? If you were a landlord in the present climate and 60 beer drinking blokes turned up could you afford to turn them away? I'll do the maths for you; say £4 a pint x 60, £240. Maybe they had 2 pints each; £480. Not bad for having people sat outside your pub for an hour.

Police were aware, plenty of them were on the scene very promptly and no arrests were made. The EDL members were soon escorted to the station and made their way to wherever they were heading next.

You might not like the people, their views or their cause but what did they do wrong? Nothing.

If they were that peaceful everywhere they went then I have a feeling they would have more members and people would join as they wouldn't have the 'hooligan' stereotype that they have that is perhaps caused by a minority, but don't judge all of them based on that stereotype, after all we don't know them do we.

From Bill J

Tuesday, 12 June 2012

I witnessed the EDL in Hebden Bridge, whilst I was out shopping, the Anti Fascists that confronted them simply made matters worse, and the police were useless, there was about 4 of them there. Another local person began shouting at the group and was then punched in the face by one of the EDL, the attacker was put in the back of a police van. My point is that people should have just ignored them and they would have gone home at some point, by turning up and shouting at them is only going to cause trouble and potential violence. Surely we should just ignore them.

From Benny M

Tuesday, 12 June 2012

Democracy is a funny thing. We all crave the freedom to express our views yet reserve the right to lambast others. I take the point with regard to Cable Street, the end of a world recession, mass unemployment, nationalistic protective feelings. EDL and their like want a fight. They want the headlines. They want to blame everyone of a non indigenous background for the problems of the nation. What do anti facist activist (of which I am one) advocate? Extermination, labour camps, enforced incarceration? It's a fine line between defeating them or being as bad as them.

From Isla S

Tuesday, 12 June 2012

Like Andrew, I in no way condone or agree with the EDL.

My first reaction, to a relative who had popped in after coming up from Hebden after being unexpectedly caught up in the protest, was why on earth are they protesting in Hebden clearly they wont have any support here. Whilst not condoning their protest last year in King's Cross/ Halifax I can see why they would protest there.

However once I thought about it a little more, Hebden Bridge is a place where the alternative lifestyle, being different and acceptance thrives. Where else would people care enough to 'bite' the bait the drunken EDL louts were offering and argue back.

From some of the other comments here clearly this is what happened. Whilst it is right that people should make it clear that they (and indeed I expect most of Hebden) don't agree with their principles, and stand up and offer the other side of the debate, baiting people and violence is not a peaceful protest.

I am attaching this link to the article in the Courier where cans of lager can be seen alongside these louts!

From Julia Brady

Tuesday, 12 June 2012

One contributor asked "What did the EDL do wrong?" and answered it "nothing". Elsewhere on the thread it is recorded that they punched someone, and I heard of someone who remonstrated with them, being abused in terms likely to be interpreted at race-hate.

I have to say how angry I am that they dared to come here, and agree that it may have been a deliberate attempt at provocation.

From Andrew Beck

Tuesday, 12 June 2012

As someone whose family and friends would have been unable to walk safely through town on Saturday I would say that the EDL did plenty wrong.

This was an organised and intimidating occupation by a fascist group, and I'd like to thank the locals who would not let them do this unopposed. And I'm sorry I was in Halifax when you were doing it.

I hope next time more people will be confident enough to let them know that they are not welcome here. And that the managers of local pubs will do the same.

From Ian M

Wednesday, 13 June 2012

And yet if you follow the link posted above, the Police clearly state there were no arrests and that nothing happened.

It could be argued that the anti fascists who gathered to oppose them were guilty of inciting violence through their actions!

Whilst we may be disgusted by everything a group may stand for, it is a fundamental part of our democracy that they have a right to gather and voice that opinion. If we deny them that right then we are as bad as they are. The freedoms we hold so dear can some times bite us in the ass!

From Andrew B

Wednesday, 13 June 2012

If they did something wrong then surely the police would've taken action, yet the police have said there were no arrests?

If I walked up and shouted in someones face I would be surprised if they didn't hit me, and I wouldn't expect the police to help me much as I provoked the incident.

The EDL were excercising their rights, the rights that people have died fighting for. Why does anyone feel it is their right to say who is and who isn't welcome in this town?

I have done a bit of research on the EDL's activites over the weekend. The Rochdale rally was a direct response to the conviction of 9 Muslim paedophiles. The judge was reported as saying the gang "prayed on these girls partly because they were from different communities and religions."

then this from the BBC;

Mohammed Shafiq, chief executive of The Ramadhan Foundation, said grooming was "a significant problem for the British Pakistani community".
"There is an over-representation [of Asian men] amongst recent convictions in the crime of on-street grooming [and] there should be no silence in addressing the issue of race as this is central to the actions of these criminals," he said.

"They think that white teenage girls are worthless and can be abused without a second thought; it is this sort of behaviour that is bringing shame on our community."

Mohammed Shafiq, chief executive of The Ramadhan Foundation, said grooming was "a significant problem for the British Pakistani community".

Am I missing something here? The police failed to act. The judge said "Lessons need to be learned from this case". I'm glad someone is standing up for young white British girls who are being exploited. I would argue strongly that by suggesting such a rally was wrong you are partly defending the actions of these vile offenders.

From Dave R

Wednesday, 13 June 2012

My view on the EDL 'demo' is pretty much one of they came; they saw; they went.

Far from being 'unable to walk safely through the town' I saw a group of people having a beer and making what was largely a silent protest until they were confronted. Whether one agrees with their principles or not, their choice to display their banners on the front of the pub was evidence of this.

I do think the owner of the Shoulder could have asked them to take their banner down from his property, but he chose to serve them drinks, so clearly was either not voicing his own principles, or like most of us; accepting that they would soon be off.

That they are possibly 'yobs' with cans of lager next to them was immaterial. There are often people who some could interpret as being 'yobs' sat in the Square with cans at weekends.

The incident of 'violence' that has caused such outcry would seem to have been one that could have been avoided if they had been left unchallenged and allowed to get back on their train after their pit stop.

Depending on your principles; and it is perhaps admirable that someone felt able to challenge the EDL; after all we do have free speech, would more than one person confronting a protesting group have led to a more serious and potentially violent confrontation?

As Benny M says "It's a fine line between defeating them or being as bad as them".

Just because we may not agree with a person's views, we do not have the right to challenge in an equally aggressive manner and as Isla puts it; Whilst it is right that people should make it clear that they (and indeed I expect most of Hebden) don't agree with their principles, and stand up and offer the other side of the debate, baiting people and violence is not a peaceful protest.

From Frank Allen

Wednesday, 13 June 2012

I agree entirely with Andrew Beck. The EDL are not any ordinary bunch of foul mouthed yobs out for a drink. Wherever and however they gather they bring a message with them - one of race hatred backed up by intimidation and violence. At the core of the EDL are organised and committed Nazis and if people don't think these people are a threat remember that millions of people voted for the fascist FN in France only recently.

To ignore them is naive complacency in the extreme. They won't go away without being opposed - the lessons from history are all too clear.

Congratulations to those who stood up to these people on Saturday.

As for Andrew B? For someone who apparently doesn't condone the EDL you come remarkably close. To state that there is no difference between those who oppose war or the oppression of Palestinians and those who want to ban mosques and incite rascist violence is to be an apologist for the EDL. If you have had the misfortune to be anywhere near an EDL demo you would know that the reality is far from a misunderstood stereotype caused by a minority of their members. They really are vicious racist thugs - and there should be no place for them in this, or any other town.

From Ian M

Wednesday, 13 June 2012

But who are you to decide who, or what can be seen or said in this town?
Everyone is entitled to their opinion and has a right to voice it. If no laws are being broken, then you cannot deny freedom of movement to a citizen of this country?

It is entirely this attitude that allows a child to be branded racist for asking his friend if he is brown because he originally came from africa, or someone who doesn't believe in climate change being branded "a denier" in the same vein as someone who denies the holocaust, or being labelled a bully for calling a friend with red hair, rusty!

As I said before, freedom of speech is exactly that, freedom.

No one's right to that can be stopped no matter how repulsive their views are!

From Andrew Beck

Wednesday, 13 June 2012

Andrew B says:

The EDL were excercising their rights, the rights that people have died fighting for. Why does anyone feel it is their right to say who is and who isn't welcome in this town?

The EDL believe they have a right to say who is and is not welcome in this country, based on ethnicity and religion.

It is very easy to support their right to have views that are unlikely to have an impact on your own life, but for those of us from familes and circles of friends whose ethnicity makes them a target of the EDL, we don't have that luxury.

And I didn't see the EDL marching to support kids who were groomed and raped by white English peodophiles.

From Isla S

Wednesday, 13 June 2012

Whilst generally I never listen to the advice my mother gives me (!) the old adage's on bullies ring true here. Give as good as you get or Sink down to their level? Violence v's Violence or Peaceful Debate v's Peaceful Debate?

From Andrew B

Wednesday, 13 June 2012

"As for Andrew B? For someone who apparently doesn't condone the EDL you come remarkably close. To state that there is no difference between those who oppose war or the oppression of Palestinians and those who want to ban mosques and incite rascist violence is to be an apologist for the EDL. If you have had the misfortune to be anywhere near an EDL demo you would know that the reality is far from a misunderstood stereotype caused by a minority of their members. They really are vicious racist thugs - and there should be no place for them in this, or any other town."

The reality is they have a bad name because of how some members go about doing things. If they were inciting racial hatred then the powers that be would ban the group. They have done it with some "extreme Islamist groups" so there is no doubt they would do the same for any other.

You say that there should be no place for them. Why? What gives you the right to pass judgement on whether or not someone else should have a place in the world.

If they are as racist as you all (IMHO dramatically) make out then I must apologise, after all - I have faith that a group of people on HebWeb can change the world and rid the world of racism.

From Gerry C

Wednesday, 13 June 2012

Well just a couple of legal points here:

1) Our freedom of speech laws do not allow for incitement to violence or incitement to racial hatred.

2) Our assault laws do not allow a punch in the face because someone is "provoking you."

I find it a bit scary that Andrew B seems to think this is quite acceptable - remind me not to speak out of turn if I ever meet you Andrew!

If, however someone did punch me in the face because they didn't like what I was saying to them, I would most certainly expect the police to take action. The person who got thumped for speaking out should surely be pressing assault charges.

All that said, I agree with those who advocate the best way to deal with such a visitation would have been to ignore them. They'd have hated that. What's the good of a banner that no-one's reading? They obviously visited Hebden looking for a scrap and some publicity and they got what they wanted.

The very fact that this discussion is going on has allowed their views to be highlighted . . . and any publicity is good publicity.

From Paul Rigg

Wednesday, 13 June 2012

I think most people would agree that there are issues which seem to be associated with the large South Asian population in various parts of the UK, which the broader population should be entitled to express their concern about.

To brand anyone with such concerns about these issue as a Nazi or Racist is entirely wrong and is to some extent burying your head in the sand.

I do remember a headmaster in Bradford called Ray Honeyford who many years ago expressed concerns about the long holidays in term time that the Pakistani community took in term time and the detrimental effect that this was having on their education.

The school was engulfed for days afterwards by a left wing mob and he had to resign.

Now, however I his views are generally taken as correct, at least by the CRE

From Hazel D

Wednesday, 13 June 2012

I can't believe that some of the people in Hebden Bridge (note how I don't generalise) are so tolerant they even suggest we tolerate neo-Nazis!

As they say, all that it takes for evil to thrive is for good people to do nothing.

Thank you to all those who were brave enough to stand up for human rights and speak out against those who would question the rights of the minority.

And in response to Andrew B, it is against Islam to rape, abuse and groom young girls - I don't want the EDL to use the actions of a few to justify and promote islamophobia and I applaud the muslim leaders who wish to face this issue head on and ensure that all members of their community are clear on their teachings. As Muhammad said, "all people are equal, as the teeth of a comb"

From Ian M

Thursday, 14 June 2012

To clarify. Our laws on assault also encompass the fear or threat of being assaulted, it is given equal footing to actual assault.

A person, minding their own business having a drink with a group of friends is suddenly confronted by an aggressive, snarling individual calling them scum, racists, nazis, would most likely be in fear of being assaulted and could use reasonable force to defend themselves.
Funny thing the law isn't it?

From Roger N

Thursday, 14 June 2012

Surely the best thing to do with the EDL is to engage them in debate - in particular find out what the rank and file members actually believe. I think you'll find they'll condemn themselves with every utterance.

There's only one thing worse than the nightmare that is the EDL, and that is their opponents' attempts to suppress free speech. However abhorrent one finds the views of the EDL, however outrageous their policies, it's quite simply wrong to disallow them to put such policies forward for debate. If they are as extreme as most people claim, it will be an easy matter to pick holes in their arguments and they will be exposed for the charlatlans they are.

Any attempts to shout them down or to counter demonstrate plays right into their hands. It raises their profile to the extent that people start to ask themselves 'What exactly is is about the EDL that people find so obnoxious?'. Some people may well go the the EDL website to discover more. There they will find that the EDL Mission Statement' contains some very plausible material which most people would agree with to some extent. Well, perhaps they're not as bad as everyone makes out!

The EDL know well how to use 'the oxygen of publicity'. Heckling and (often physical) confrontation is precisely what they want to get the headlines they so desperately need. Firm, well argued debate is anathema to the EDL.

From Abi L

Thursday, 14 June 2012

Absolutely agree, Hazel. It's bad enough (though unsurprising) that racists will seize on anything available to justify their bigotry, but when you find them being applauded on the hebweb it starts getting alarming.

From Frank Allen

Thursday, 14 June 2012

I suppose the EDL's off duty visit to Hebden has revealed one thing – we have our fair share of cowards, apologists and rascist sympathisers in the Town.

Rascism is a crime against humanity and fascism is the denial of humanity. The EDL undeniably represent both. So not only is it my human right to argue they have no place here or anywhere else and to voice my opposition to them – it is my duty.

Of course people like Andrew B who agree with the EDL indeed "applaud" them obviously feel more comfortable with racism than I do. Andrew's only problem with the EDL appears to be their unfortunate and apparently undeserved image – perhaps he prefers his Nazis to be a little more tasteful?

The idea that the EDL (which is as thuggish and male dominated an organisation as any I can think of) is somehow a champion of women's rights or has anything positive to say about sexual exploitation or paedophilia is sickening –but of course Andrew seems only concerned about protecting "young white British women".

How easily, having done his "research", he slips into the language and "thought" patterns of the Nazis. As for the idea that to oppose the EDL is to condone the actions of paedophiles? - disgusting. Get yourself a couple of tattoos and a buzz cut Andrew and you're in.

By the way, what are the ideals that people have died for that the EDL represent? My father fought for his ideals in WW2 - against the very people you applaud. Millions of his generation died in the fight for democracy and freedom rather than fascism. How disrespectful and pathetic that those who now have the courage and decency stand up to today's Nazi's are described instead as the problem and somehow as bad as the fascists themselves.

Hiding behind the claim that these people can be safely ignored, trivialising and underestimating the potential power and impact of their ideas, refusing to condemn them (or even criticise them) and invoking the ridiculous abstract notion of absolute free speech in order to do precisely nothing will not protect anyone from the intimidation and violence the EDL seek to meet out or defend our citizens from rascism. But then some people seem not to mind.

From J Kirkwood

Thursday, 14 June 2012

I find it both disturbing and disappointing that some people are prepared to tolerate the presence of fascists on the streets of Hebden Bridge.

The EDL, unlike the BNP, aren't even concerned about the fig leaf of standing in elections. They are purely and simply a street organisation, whose purpose is to intimidate their opponents. They have been involved in violent attacks on Muslims and trades unionists.

Their strategy is to try and provoke a response from ethnic minority communities which will result in serious public disorder, and to exploit the resulting instability.

That anyone in a place like Hebden, with its reputation for tolerance and diversity, sees them as anything other than a unpleasant and threatening presence suggests that the lessons of Germany in the 1930s are in danger of being forgotten.

Thanks to all have contributed to this discussion. I think this is a good point to end this thread for the time being - ed