A car crash of civilisations

Neither the English Defence League nor Islamist extremists could organise a fry-up in a chippie. So why the hysteria?

Patrick Hayes

Topics Politics

Left-wing commentators and campaigners love to freak out about the rise of far-right groups like the English Defence League (EDL), just as much as their counterparts on the right get off by banging on about the rise of militant ‘Islamofascism’. The farcical events that took place in a West Yorkshire town in June last year reveal just how baseless these fascist-fearing hysterics are.

Reading this week’s court reports on the incompetence of Islamic extremists who planned an attack in the town of Dewsbury last year, on the day of Queen Elizabeth’s Diamond Jubilee, you could be forgiven for thinking they were fictional scripts for a sequel to Chris Morris’s 2010 movie, Four Lions.

These Six Lions, all from the West Midlands, came up with a cunning plan to blow up an English Defence League (EDL) march, popping along to the march with sawn-off shotguns, swords, knives, a modified firework full of shrapnel, and components for a pipe bomb. They had spent hours drafting an elaborate leaflet addressed to UK prime minister David Cameron and the queen (dubbed the ‘female devil’), explaining how the EDL – which they branded the ‘English Drunkards League’, ho ho – were ‘enemies of Allah’. ‘We have heard and seen you openly insulting the final Messenger of Allah’, the leaflet said. ‘You should know that for every action there is a reaction… Today is a day of retaliation.’

Erm, except… there was one hitch. By the time these great defenders of the Messenger Mohammed, who ‘love death more than you love life’, turned up, the EDL demo had long since dispersed. With egg on their faces, the Six Lions visited a local chippie and then started the drive home, only to be pulled over by traffic police. These lovers of death evidently believed they had no need for car insurance, so their car – complete with shotguns and bombs inside – was impounded. When the pound opened on Monday, their weapon store was discovered and, following a manhunt across Birmingham, they were quickly arrested. They have now all pleaded guilty to planning an act of terrorism and will be sentenced next month.

While these men deserve to get stiff sentences, the idea that they had done much in the way of planning their act is laughable. Due to the fervour they create, EDL demos are very hard to miss: second-by-second updates are available on Twitter, and websites often offer rolling coverage of events. Why didn’t the Six Lions keep tabs on the target? What Islamist idiocy. Far from being ‘the greatest honour for us’ (as the wannabe jihadists described their planned assault), this failed terror incident was in keeping with a long tradition of would-be Islamic terrorists getting things spectacularly wrong and then languishing in jail in abject dishonour.

Although, to be fair to these Six Lions, maybe they just believed the hype about the EDL and what they dubbed its ‘crusade against Islam/Muslims on a global scale’, and therefore believed that the EDL rally they were planning to attack would be big, well-attended and would go on until quite late on the day of the Diamond Jubilee. But none of those things came to pass. Despite being described as the great new fascist threat in the UK, the EDL has relatively few supporters and generally mobilises small numbers of people for its demos. So it was on the day of the planned Islamist attack, when the EDL demo fizzled out due to a shortage of speakers and due to the failure of EDL leader Tommy Robinson to show up (due to ‘family issues’).

So we have ‘Islamofascists’ incapable of carrying out an attack against a much-feared ‘English fascist threat’ that is actually not that threatening.

The fact that all the highfaluting plans to spark a clash of civilisations between English nationalists and Muslim extremists came to nowt in Dewsbury should, of course, be welcomed. But we should also recognise that the events of that day reveal the pathetic nature of both of these supposedly fascistic movements. This is less a clash of civilisations, more a car crash of civilisations: a so-called ‘racist uprising’ that can muster little support versus an Islamic uprising that is actually just a handful of dumb lumps who can’t turn up on time to plant their bombs.

It isn’t only the EDL and Muslim extremists who should feel embarrassed by these pitiful non-events in Dewsbury. So should all of those activists and observers who have long been scaremongering about what the late Christopher Hitchens liked to dub ‘Islamofascism’, which is ‘based on a cult of murderous violence that exalts death and destruction and despises the life of the mind’, and those who shrilly announce that the EDL represents the return of Oswald Mosley’s fascist Blackshirts, ‘fuelled by visceral, violent, anti-Muslim hatred’.

The events in Dewsbury reveal perfectly the reality behind these two sets of mythical ‘fascists’. The real farce here lies less with the incompetent bearded buffoons who can’t tell the time, or the EDL’s lack of staying power, but with those hysterical critics who have been writing endless scare stories depicting the EDL-v-Islam political pantomime as the epic tragedy of our age.

Patrick Hayes is a columnist for spiked.

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Topics Politics


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