Some commenters here didn’t care for Nick Lowles’s response to the convictions of six men who had planned to bomb EDL supporters in Dewsbury, because they felt it was making an equivalence between simply thuggish and hateful behaviour and a cold-blooded murderous attack. But, overall, it was a pretty balanced piece:
While many Muslims would have felt insulted by the [The Innocence of Muslims], Islamist extremist groups lost no time in using it to whip up anti-Western, anti-Christian and antisemitic hatred to justify their own world view.
And let us not forget that the EDL was itself set up as a result of a tiny Al-Muhajiroun protest against a British Army homecoming parade in 2009.
By contrast some responses to recent events were genuinely alarming. Here’s Sita Balani:
Both groups saw their targets as lying beyond the Far Right’s street level boot boys. Found alongside the weapons, in the car on its way to Dewsbury, was a letter damning the EDL, David Cameron and the Queen: a triumvirate we might consider to represent popular racism, neo-liberalism and neo-colonial wars, and British imperialism.
If you think this is crazy – it gets worse. Here Balani quotes Aviva Stahl from Cage Prisoners:
‘Treating the EDL and “Islamic extremists” as moral equivalents is wrong… one is embedded in the structure of white supremacy and one isn’t. We also can’t pretend that we can deal with white racism and “extremism” in the same ways without feeding into Islamophobia. Lowles seems to be suggesting that white people have the right and the ability to decide what constitutes “good” Islam and “extremism/Jihadism,” instead of asking the more pressing question: why are some British Muslims so alienated?’
Frustratingly, ‘why are some British Muslims so alienated’ is by no means a completely illegitimate question – rather as some questions posed by those attracted to the EDL may not be completely illegitimate. However EDL supporters may not feel that they are part of a ‘supremacy’ and many of those they are reacting against are, in some ways, pretty privileged. It could be argued that it’s not dealing in the same way with white racism and the extremism which, for some reason, Stahl thinks needs to be in ‘scare quotes’, which feeds into Islamophobia.