September 24, 2012 Faith Matters

A Study of the English Defence League: The Faith Hate Report

What Draws People of Faith to Right Wing Organisations & What Effects Does the EDL Have on Interfaith Relations?

Key findings of the report include:

  • EDL attempts to recruit among faith communities
  • Christian leaders should publicly stand up to EDL
  • UK government should examine group’s international funding
  • Jewish Defence League should be banned

Christian organisations should be doing far more to combat the appeal of far-right groups such as the English Defence League (EDL), according to counter-extremism organisation, Faith Matters.

The comments from Faith Matters coincides with the launch of research into the appeal of the EDL among faith communities, particularly among a small element of Christian, Jewish, Sikh and Hindu figures.

“Christian institutions on a national level have not been robust in condemning the EDL,” said Faith Matters’ director, Fiyaz Mughal OBE. “There is no national voice from the Church of England for example, universally condemning the actions of the EDL despite the fact the EDL disrupts and attempts to divide Christian and Muslim communities. Why?”

Mughal also said that the UK authorities need to examine how hate groups such as the EDL, which have the capacity to cause huge disruption on our streets, receive international funding.

“Links with Pamella Geller’s Stop the Islamization of America campaign and the ability to raise funds from the US need to be put under the spotlight,” he said. “People in the US promoting street-based social unrest in the UK by donating to the EDL is simply not on.”

Main Findings

  • The EDL uses mainly Christian symbolism in its promotion and publicity material,
  • Some within faith communities believe that by allying with the EDL they can marginalise and stigmatise Muslims,
  • Building community resilience against such hate is vital – anti-hate groups in other faith communities, such as the Luton Faiths Forum, Community Security Trust, the Turban Campaign and Sikhs Against the EDL, should be more fully supported,
  • The UK government needs to look at how groups such as the EDL are financed internationally, via a network of supporters in the ‘counter jihadist’ network (particularly the USA),
  • The Jewish Defence League needs to be effectively outlawed in the UK for inciting extreme hatred against Muslims.