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Archive for September 6th, 2011

The EDL’s “Angel Jo”

The commenter “anon” on this thread on my blog has highlighted what appears to be relevant information on EDL News (that’s anti-EDL news fyi) about the woman who was kicked on the ground after emerging from the coach through Tower Hamlets on Saturday evening.

Her name seems to be Joanne Dickens, or as the EDL label her, Angel Jo. Some angel. This is apparently her…before her jaw was broken. (Photo is copyright of BACPhotography – please get in touch with me if this is in breach.)

EDL News also have this screenshot of her Facebook page.

EDL News have also highlighted the EDL’s version of what happened. It’s here:

STATMENT: Tower Hamlets 03/09/11

– September 6, 2011Posted in: News

Fist off I’d like to make clear this is the events that took place on 03/09/11 and 04/09/11 are reported as viewed through my eyes,  the coach had 45 people on it and some events may be viewed differently  and/or some events were not witnessed by myself – i must also point out ‘all’ of the persons on the coach excluding Jo and the driver have been arrested and bailed so certain points i will not go into detail as this could harm investigations that are currently ongoing.

Ill start from the point of pick up on Tooley Street as our driver did not go to the designated parking that i told him to this lead to us traveling back as a lone coach instead of with other coaches heading north/M1, i don’t know London so i took my seat at the back of the coach and left the driver to take us home.

We must have been 20/30mins into the journey when we pulled up in traffic instantly we are all aware that we were in fact outside of a mosque on our right hand side(this has later been identified as east end mosque) – outside the mosque were about 40/50 Muslim men of all ages who recognised that we were EDL (on the travel in, we took the advice of no colours and flags but an anti sharia banner was taken from the demo and was put up in the coach window on the side of the mosque on the journey home, i was not aware of this until after) and instantly began shouting and banging the coach and in what seemed like seconds a window was broken on the left hand side, the driver then pulled away as the traffic moved but we were  again stopped in less then 100yds and at this point we were surrounded by more ‘muslims’ this time from shops with the others running up from the mosque – now more windows were smashed and objects were entering through the open windows.

The driver then was able to drive away and we covered a much further distance before having to stop again – in this time i did a check on the passengers seeing who was injured only then was i made aware that Jo a female on our coach was not there – personally i was shocked and this must be a mistake and checked the toilets asked everyone to check the floor(fuck i even checked the roof…) but we couldn’t find her, her friend telephoned her and she said she was the other side of the mosque from us and had been attacked  – at this point i asked everyone to stay on the coach and drive further up the road and i would go back for Jo – and i left the coach and moved down towards the mosque but even at this point more Muslims were gathering from the surrounding area – and it became clear the only option we had was to try and break through so i returned to the coach for more lads and we headed down towards the mosque – At this point i cannot include anymore information about the events as we have a ongoing police investigation against those that left the coach to rescue Jo, except to say that we were eventually forced back towards the coach by heavy numbers and unable to get to Jo.

Once we were back on the coach the driver informed us that the clutch was burned out and unable to move,we were sitting ducks and that’s when we were encircled with a estimated 1000 strong muslim group – video/images have been taken by ourselves and will be released – this onslaught continued for 5mins(it seemed like a lot longer) until what we believe was 150 riot police attended and pushed the Muslim group back.

A double decker bus was then sent to pick us up and we were moved onto it it then took at least 15mins to exit the area while still having objects thrown at us as the group of Muslims tried to block our exit with with bins, rubbish and even a sit down to block the road.

Once we were clear of the area(this is later explained to us as Tower Hamlets) that’s when the bizarre events took place with us being escorted all over London for about 2hrs under blue lights by what looked like 15 police vehicles till we eventually arrested and placed in cells – Now im no legal student but it seems very strange that persons that have been attacked (for some this has been a very traumatic experience) arenot counselled and asked to give a statement but instead are left to sit in cells for over 24hrs

Every person on the Coach was detained and interviewed and released on conditional bail while further investigations took place – At the point of writing this i believe that no Muslims were arrested over this incident.

Id like to personally thank the Met police for there swift response because i do believe if  they would have been 5 minutes later we all would not have been here to tell the tale and also to everyone who supported us like Tommy & Kev, Tony Curtis and Tracie and everyone who helped to get the division home including Craig Leicester and Shaggy who traveled down to pick up the last 3.

My thanks extend to those that left the coach to rescue Jo every individual directly risked there life for a fellow EDL member and as such should be credited not perscicuted.

NSFE

Richard Nottingham

This is an account of what happened to the lovely Angel by someone who clearly enjoyed the violence.

And this is what happened:

However ugly, disgusting and repellant this woman appears to be, I’m not sure I could have kicked her in the face on the floor. Could you?

Those who saved her from worse punishment deserve the biggest applause of the day. They’re the shining examples and leaders. Well done.

I hope she has enough integrity to reflect and learn. But somehow I doubt it.

 

 

 

 

 

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Gay rights protester Peter Tatchell issued a press release yesterday about the EDL and UAF protests. Harry’s Place reproduced it here and the comments on the thread are well worth a read. For ease, I’ll also publish Tatchell’s words below:


Like many other people, I went to last Saturday’s protest in East London first and foremost to oppose the far right English Defence League and to defend the Muslim community against EDL thuggery.

But I also wanted to stand in solidarity with Muslims who oppose far right Islamists. These fundamentalists threaten and intimidate the Muslim community; especially fellow Muslims who don’t conform to their harsh, intolerant interpretation of Islam. To varying degrees, both the Islamists and the EDL menace Muslim people.

In addition, I wanted to be visible as a gay man, to demonstrate that East London is not and never will be a “Gay-Free Zone” and to show that most lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people are not anti-Muslim; that there are LGBTs who want to work in solidarity with Muslim people to oppose all prejudice, discrimination and violence.

To these ends, my human rights campaign colleague Ashley McAlister and I joined the anti-EDL protest, carrying double-sided placards which read on one side: “Stop EDL & far right Islamists. No to ALL hate” and on the other side: “Gays & Muslims UNITE! Stop the EDL”.

We got dirty looks from a small number of left-wing and LGBT anti-EDL protesters, some of whom said explicitly that our placards were “insensitive…provocative…inappropriate…divisive” and that I am “racist…fascist…anti-Muslim.”

There was also hostility from a minority of Muslims who were part of the anti-EDL demonstration, including attempts to snatch and rip my placard. These fanatics mostly objected to the slogan: “Gays & Muslims UNITE! Stop the EDL”. I was surrounded several times throughout the day by angry Muslim youths who ordered me: “You must remove this placard…You can’t walk here with these words…We don’t allow gays in this area…Gays are not permitted here…We don’t have gays in Tower Hamlets.”

When I suggested that LGBT Muslims must also be defended against the EDL, I was told: “Gays can’t be Muslims…We will never accept them (LGBT Muslims)…They can’t come around here…We won’t allow it.”

My response was to engage with these Muslims hotheads and argue against them. The discussions got very heated; at times even menacing and scary. There were moments when I thought I was going to be physically attacked. Thankfully, this did not happen, probably because there were police nearby and, more significantly, because several Muslims intervened to defend my right to be there and to express my viewpoint. Some Muslims even thanked me for joining the anti-EDL protest.

In the course of the arguments, I diffused the hostility of quite a few Muslim critics. I suggested that love and compassion were core Islamic values and that even if Muslims personally disapproved of homosexuality there is nothing in the Qu’ran that sanctions hatred or discrimination against LGBT people. Several eventually agreed that homophobia was wrong. Some shook my hand and parted with a more ‘live and let live’ attitude – a big improvement on their initial response.

This change in attitude as a result of Ashley and I being willing to engage in dialogue was really positive and inspiring. It shows how important and effective such an engagement can be. We need more of it.

Interestingly, there was very little overt, identifiable Muslim hostility to our placard slogan:
“Stop EDL & far right Islamists. No to ALL hate.” There were a few nasty, aggressive looks but that’s all. Indeed, several Muslims indicated that they also oppose the Islamist far right.  They realise that extremist groups like Islam4UK and Hizb ut-Tahrir, which want to establish a religious dictatorship, threaten the human rights of mainstream Muslims. These fundamentalists have a similar bigoted agenda to the EDL and BNP.

Our experience on Saturday is further evidence that we need an East End Gay Pride that goes through the heart of the Muslim community in E1, to engage with the Muslim communities and build mutual understanding.

Interestingly, there were lots of LGBT protesters against the EDL. But I never saw a single one with a gay badge, placard, t-shirt or rainbow flag. It was as if they’d all gone back in the closet. Why? Normally, on other demos, they always proclaim their LGBT identity. How strange. Ashley McAlister and I were the only visibly gay protesters in the entire anti-EDL demonstration.

The people who called for the anti-EDL protest to be called off were mistaken. In the absence of a visible counter-protest, the EDL would have been able to rally unchallenged and claim a victory. It would have sent the wrong signal if the EDL had been permitted to claim any part of East London as its own.

Saturday’s peaceful protest against the EDL was important because it showed that most of our communities are united in solidarity and that we will not be divided by the hate-mongering of the far right.

What too many anti-fascists refuse to acknowledge is that Islamist fundamentalism mirrors the right-wing ideology of the EDL (and the BNP). In fact, the Islamist goals are much more dangerous. They want to establish a theocratic tyranny, ban trade unions and political parties and deny women equal human rights. They endorse hatred and violence against Jewish, Hindu and LGBT people. Muslims who don’t follow their particular brand of Islam would face severe persecution in their Islamist state. These fanatical sects condone terrorism and the suicide bombing of innocent civilians. Not even the BNP and EDL are this extreme.

The failure of many people on the Left to speak out against Islamist fundamentalism is de facto collusion with extremism and a betrayal of the Muslim majority. It also creates a political vacuum, which the EDL is seeking to exploit and manipulate.

Some anti-fascists argue that we should not condemn the Islamists because this will fuel anti-Muslim sentiment. Wrong. Protesting against the fundamentalists and defending mainstream Muslims is actually the most effective way to undermine Islamophobia.

In the absence of a left-wing critique of the Islamist far right, the EDL is able to pose as the sole critic of Islamist extremism and to mount indiscriminate attacks on the whole Muslim community.

This silence and inaction by many on the left is objectively (albeit unintentionally) colluding with both fundamentalist fanaticism and anti-Muslim prejudice.

To be credible and effective, opponents of the EDL need to be consistent by also taking a stand against right-wing Islamists. Only this way can we offer a principled alternative to the EDL that isolates and targets the extremists without demonising the whole Muslim population.

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