The rise of the far right

The English Defence League is drawing thousands to its anti-Muslim rallies


 

Matthew Lloyd Getty Images/ Phil Noble Reuters/ Sand Tan AP

“We’re expecting a nice peaceful protest, and we’ll all be home for tea time.”

The police officer in the northern British city of Bradford was speaking in advance of a planned rally by the English Defence League, a far-right group that, since its launch less than two years ago, has grown into a street movement capable of mobilizing hundreds or thousands of supporters at demonstrations across Britain. The EDL says it is non-racist and opposed only to Muslim extremism and the “stealthy introduction of sharia law” into Britain. “We are a grassroots social movement who represent every walk of life, every race, every creed and every colour, from the working class to Middle England,” the EDL’s website claims. “Our unity and diversity is our strength.” Their opponents say they are fascists and racists, and hate Muslims of all types.

The EDL formed last year, shortly after a small group of Islamist extremists in Luton confronted members of the Royal Anglian Regiment with taunts and insults during their homecoming parade after returning from the war in Afghanistan. Early adherents were organized through groups of soccer club supporters, and came to include members and ex-members of the British National Party, which until recently banned non-whites, as well as a sprinkling of more extreme neo-Nazis and skinheads.

Usama Hasan, an imam at London’s al-Tawhid’s mosque, has argued strongly for what he describes as an indigenous, English Islam, one that rejects extremism and is integrated into broader British society. He corresponds with one EDL supporter online and says the group’s rise reflects, in part, the failure of British Muslims to engage with their non-Muslim peers and make clear their opposition to extremists such as the “idiots” who verbally attacked returning British soldiers in Luton. “We have a lot of work to do on dialogue,” he said. Hasan is trying to organize a group of British Muslims to go to Wootton Bassett, the small town through which the bodies of deceased British soldiers are taken when they are brought home from Afghanistan, to show their respect and support.

EDL marches and demonstrations typically result in violent confrontations with police who stand between them and their opponents, including the thousands of British Muslims living in cities the EDL targets. Despite claims of inclusiveness, a broader hostility toward Muslims in general is often evident. “God bless every single person in this country, of all religions, creeds and cultures,” an apparent EDL leader told supporters as he spoke to them through a megaphone at a recent rally. “And you know what? Even God bless the Muslims. They’ll need it for when they burn in their f–king hell.”

Previous violence at EDL demonstrations led to a hot debate among opponents of the EDL about how to respond to the group’s visit to Bradford. The economically depressed city is home to some 75,000 Muslims and was the scene of race riots and arson in 2001, when another far-right group tried to march there. Some activists feared that physically confronting the EDL, as has happened at previous rallies, might trigger a similar conflagration.

Several Bradford imams urged the city’s Muslims to stay away from the city centre to avoid confrontation. Others supported a coalition calling itself “We are Bradford,” which held what was billed as a celebration of unity and peace at a location far enough removed from the EDL demonstration site to avoid any direct confrontation. The leftist group Unite Against Fascism, which had previously faced off against EDL marches, bused in supporters to take part. “They’re here to stir up racial hatred. We’re not going to rise to that,” Arshad Ali, a psychologist and organizer with We are Bradford told Maclean’s as the event began around noon.

He stressed that those opposed to the EDL would stay well away from them but that simply ignoring their presence would have implied EDL opponents were weak. “If we don’t come here, what are we saying, that fascists can come to our city and we hide in our houses?” Ali said. “When the Nazis attacked Britain, Churchill didn’t say hide in your houses. This is our city. If we gave in to the Nazis, we’d be German by now.”

Ali, who ran for the Respect Party during this year’s national election, also volunteers with the charity Viva Palestina, driving convoys of aid to Gaza. He says people outside of Britain hear he is from Bradford and immediately ask him about the 2001 race riots. “That’s embarrassing. This is our chance to redeem ourselves.”

Around Ali, a variety of activists promoting a variety of causes were setting up their stalls. They included those supporting nuclear disarmament and advocating for stronger workers’ rights. Rival Trotskyist and socialist newspaper vendors hawked their wares. One, selling the Morning Star, which grew out of the Communist party’s Daily Worker, claimed hers was the “sensible” publication. Technicians performed a sound check at a stage. One musician, the rapper Sway Major, would soon sing about “corporate America and Zionist pigs.”

In the meantime, about 500 m away, members of the English Defence League arrived. Denied the right to march through the city, they had been allotted a walled-in expanse of grass and pavement on which to hold a “static demonstration.” They came past phalanxes of police officers, in buses with red and white English flags held against the windows amidst cheers and chants, banners, tattoos, bare chests, and a pervasive smell of beer.

Conspicious among them was a short and thin South Asian man holding a Glasgow Rangers soccer club flag and speaking with a thick Scottish accent. “These people aren’t racists,” he told a crowd that gathered around him, referring to the EDL. “I’ve seen real racists in Scotland. They won’t shake your hand. All we want is a peaceful Britain.”

The man was Abdul Salam, a Glasgow Muslim who has attended many EDL events. Those listening to him—mostly anti-EDL activists—suggested he talk to an enormous man with a shaved head and a camouflage jacket on a nearby corner. A woman with a pitbull stood beside him. “Ask him to show you his swastika tattoo,” one said.

Salam duly approached the man, shook his hand, and said this was proof of his tolerance. By now the surrounding crowd, which included a dozen or so South Asian men, was jostling the two and yelling “Fascist scum off our streets!” The police pulled Salam away. “They’re evil people,” he shouted, pointing over the arms of the police at the Muslim men taunting him. “They’re hypocrites and terrorists, and they’ll burn in the fires of hell.” In the safety of the designated protest area, Salam told Maclean’s it was the Muslim opponents of the EDL who are racists. “Islam says we’re all one,” he said. “They’re bigots and sectarians. They’ve made me an outcast. When I came here I didn’t get abuse from this lot. I got abuse from Asians.”

Wayne Baldwin, the large man whose hand Salam had shaken, had also come into the designated protest area. Asked if he really had a swastika tattoo, he said he did but wasn’t a Nazi. He then took out his digital camera and showed off a picture of his large Nazi flag at home. “It’s the same as the Union Jack,” he said. “And wasn’t the Confederate flag flown by people who lynched blacks? And didn’t Stalin kill loads of people too?”

Salam tried to explain this away. He said Baldwin displaying a Nazi flag was similar to Protestant Glasgow Rangers fans flying the Ulster banner of Northern Ireland to antagonize their rival Catholic fans. He said a man couldn’t be judged by his past. Baldwin, meanwhile, enthused about skinhead white-power bands. Another EDL supporter commented on his skinhead ties. Baldwin, who had just been yelled at by EDL opponents, said, “It’s only people like us that will stand up to them.”

Hard, driving music drifted over the protest park as more EDL supporters emerged from buses. Soon there were close to 1,000. Groups gathered to thrust their fists or open hands into the air and chant “EDL! EDL!” and “Muslim bombers off our streets!” A middle-aged man, thin-faced, earnest, and older than most of the others, approached. “Good show, lads,” he said. “We’ll get this up on YouTube. I’ve got a banner and some poles. Can you help me hold it up?”
“What’s it say?” Salam asked.

“No mosques.”

Salam declined, but the man soon found other takers, and his banner joined those already held aloft: “Stop the paedophile invasion of Britain,” “Islam oppresses women,” “This is our country, not yours.”

Several EDL supporters now broke into song, a reworked version of a tune sometimes heard at England-Germany soccer games: “There were 10 Muslim bombers in the air . . . But the RAF of England shot one down . . . ” Eventually, as the song concludes, there are none.

Many of the EDL supporters appeared drunk and angry, but many also were not. “We’re not Nazi hooligans,” one young woman, standing apart from her rowdier colleagues, insisted. “I’m here for this country, to protect this country. We don’t want sharia here.” Andy Greenhalgh, an 18-year-old student at Bury college, said, “Basically, we’re just a load of lads who are at the end of their tether. A lot of towns in the north of England are socially divided. They’ve not tried to integrate with us. They’re not trying to integrate with us. I’m not racist. I have lots of black and Sikh and Hindu friends. But in my opinion, not all Muslims, but most, are trying to take away our British way of life. No offence, but they’re going to have a much better life here than in Pakistan, so why do they hate us so much?”

“We have no problems with Muslims, but I do have a problem with Islam being imposed on other people,” another EDL supporter said. “It’s such an intolerant way of life. How long can you tolerate intolerance?”

One of the questions surrounding the EDL is what are its ultimate goals. It shows no apparent inclination to morph into a political movement, such as the British National Party, but it’s difficult to imagine how it can sustain momentum with simple and repetitive protests. Some supporters say they are content simply to voice their message. At least one had more ambitious goals.

“My personal preference would be a paramilitary, to stand there and say an eye for an eye, the Christian and Jewish way,” Robert Penketh, 32, an information technology worker, told Maclean’s. “At least then the underworld would have honour.” Would such a paramilitary fight Muslims? “Ideally against them, yeah, but also others. The country does need sorting out.”

As the singing and chanting of EDL supporters grew, the size of the crowd opposing them, behind a line of police, swelled as well. The two groups could see each other, and many on both sides brandished fists and middle fingers, waving at each other to come closer and fight. “They’ve come here to provoke us again. They want us to break things,” said Ali Khan, 28, a local bank worker among those gathered behind police lines. “What we’re going to do is just laugh it off.”

Asked about Abdul Salam, the Muslim EDL supporter, Mohammed Khan, a kitchen assistant, described him as a “muppet.” “It’s propaganda,” he said. “They’ve found some idiot to stand there and say things against his religion. When he goes to hell, he’ll find out.”

The taunts and shouting between members of the EDL and a group of South Asian men opposite grew louder. “Allah is a paedo!” the EDL members chanted, jumping up and down, hands in the air. “Where is your passport? We want our country back.”

A few pebbles flew from the EDL side over the heads of the police and into the opposing crowd, then rocks. Some were thrown back. Soon there were cans and bottles and smoke bombs. One burst into flames. Those being pelted were packed in a small area. It was difficult to dodge the missiles. The police herded everyone farther back. A separate line of riot police pushed against the surging EDL supporters, some of whom attacked them. The police swung batons, though infrequently. EDL supporters hurled rocks.

An EDL supporter named Bryce English emerged from the melee. His English Defence League jersey was stained with blood. He said he had tried to stand between the police and the EDL crowd and was beaten and stamped on by those on the EDL side. He blamed neo-Nazis he said had infiltrated the protest. Another EDL supporter stumbled from the crowd, bleeding from the head. Police laid him down on the pavement and treated him a few steps away from the opposing lines.

Things soon calmed down. The police made about a dozen arrests, and by the end of the afternoon several of the EDL demonstrators were talking amiably with the officers surrounding them as they were escorted back on their buses. Those who lived in Bradford walked away. An EDL “team leader” told Maclean’s the protest had gone “okay.” He blamed the rock throwing on a “local element that came for the trouble and used us as a platform to vent their anger.”

The protest wasn’t peaceful, and it wasn’t quite over by tea time. But there was no repeat of the riots that so deeply scarred Bradford in 2001, and most of the police who covered the event likely made it home for supper.

As dusk fell, streets in downtown Bradford were quiet. Most stores were closed, and only a few pedestrians were out. Sumara Sultan and Ammarah Mir, two young Bradford women, had attended the Bradford Together event earlier in the day and were on their way to dinner. They told Maclean’s the event was a success, that people from all different religions and ethnic backgrounds were there, that they demonstrated the “true face of Bradford.” They were happy and proud.
Elsewhere in the downtown core, two groups of white youths hailed each other. “EDL! No surrender!” they shouted, their voices echoing off of the shuttered shops.

They passed two young South Asian men who glared at them. “I know, they’re looking at us,” one of the white youths said to his companions. “But there’s only two of them. Let’s go.” A couple of them nevertheless hung back to strut close to the South Asian teenagers. “EDL! EDL!” one said, but without much gusto. The two pairs circled each other for a few seconds, then drifted off down separate streets.


 

The rise of the far right

  1. looks like a muslim deathcult demo to me

  2. I find Ali's rhetorical construction, when he invokes Churchill, an interesting meta-comment on identification, because his ancestors (dad, mom, grandpa, etc) most likely were not involved in directly defending Britain in 1940. Yet he lives in a symbolic realm where to the Battle of Britain is just as much his touchstone as any other person in Britain. He lives in a situation where what the threat he seeks to oppose ostensibly inhabits the same symbolic realm he lays claim to (if you set aside the religious component), yet he conceptualizes the nature of the threat in terms of a foreign agressors.

  3. Once again Muslim agitators get a pass at the expense of their opponents. This reports drips with pro-muslim bias.

    • Interesting Agha Ali (nice "Canadian name!) that your interpretation of this article is NOTHING like mine. My conclusion is that these British people are fed up of their immigration laws and how these Muslims do NOT assimilate to their society. Enough is enough!!!
      Good for them. I have always said in the west, we do not cover our faces unless we are robbing a bank or partaking in a native protest (both not positive). There is NO reason for people to move to the west and keep their archaic, hypocritical ideas, ASSIMILATE!!!!

      • Have you met any Muslims David? Or any immigrants for that matter? You may have noticed that the children of immigrants tend to be very much "assimilated" into the surrounding culture, while their surviving parents tend to cling to old traditions and values.

        Cultural integration is a process that takes up to two generations. Immigrants are not hurting you by being different. Be patient and stop hating.

  4. It's not the rise of the right.

    It's the rise of the blind opening our eyes to the realities of this world.

  5. who, white people?

  6. Invoking Churchill, yet denying Holocaust happened.

  7. None of this surprises me. When people get organized , join political parties and hijack the agenda, trouble begins to brew. This is what's happened in jack Layton's NDP.
    https://sites.google.com/site/thegospelaccordingt

    • People getting organized? Political involvement by non-whites? GOD FORBID

      • I mean after all, it is not like fundamentalist Christians have hijacked the agenda of any political movements out here….

  8. The EDL methods might not be always correct, but they do have the right to be concerned about their country. Muslims have been trying to change the face of western countries, to reflect their own religious views, using our own laws against us. If the government is not capable or willing to step in and put a stop to it, then this is the result.

    • HAHAHA! Dont make me Laugh.. Who invaded Iraq? Who invaded Afganistan. WHo supports the land stollen from the Palestinians? The list goes on.. You tarnish the whole 1.6 BILION muslims on the action of a few.. even if there were 10,000 terrorists it would not even equate to 1% of the Mulsims in the world. You see what you wanna see and follow blindly like a lost sheep, a phawning Syckophant. The world could do with a lot less of people like you mate!

    • Further add.. Who occupied Northern Africa, Colonised Australia, America and of course you live on lands STOLEN and forced the indiginous poplulation in "canada" to live your life and pay your taxes. You Clown!

      • Indiginous people or as they are correctly known ( First Nations ) do not have to pay taxes in Canada amongst all the other perks they get such as going to University for FREE for an example.

  9. It's about time englishmen stood up and took pride in the accomplishments of their history instead of allowing their 'betters' in academia, politics and media to denigrate that history.
    Anyone can look around and see the main countries that people want to get into – all english speaking former colonies of Britain. Colonialism should be a source of pride for the British and the US, Canada, Australia, New Zealand and to a lesser extent the smaller colonies should thank their lucky stars that it was Britain that colonized these lands, even the ancestors of the aboriginals realize that it was fortunate for them that the British got here first, when they're being honest.

  10. Things are starting to move. When ordinary citizens feel that their views and their rights must play second fiddle to the rights of others, they feel a sense of resentment. The NDP has become a collection of special interests groups-queers, Islmaists, cultural Marxists-who want their views heard even if such views are deleterious to the pillars of our institutions. Within this party all kinds of unusual alliances have formed-their's comfort in numbers.

    • Right on : more power to the people.

    • No one has the right to deny rights to others, the notion that we have the right to do whatever we feel like to other people is ridiculous, everyone's rights end where they impede on another's rights. Freedom of belief gives you the right to hate Muslims but it doesn't give you the right to act on those beliefs to deny Muslims their rights as Canadians. Everyone has equal rights, the fact that discriminating against certain groups in society is becoming increasingly socially unacceptable is in no way taking away anyone's rights at all since the right to discriminate on the basis of ethnic origin and religion never existed. I get it that some people feel hard done by when they're force to share equal rights with those they dislike but that doesn't mean "their rights must play second fiddle to the rights of others" since they never had the right to discriminate on those grounds in the first place. Yes minority groups have been gaining their equality rights as our society evolves into a more just one and the old white male Christian guard in our society hasn't gained any new rights themselves but that's because they already had all the rights being granted to minority groups in recent years. They don't need any more rights since they already have them all anyways. I understand losing the social acceptibility of discrimination against certain groups appears as a loss to some but that doesn't mean any of their rights have been lost.

    • Which views are "deletrious to the pillars of our institutions"? Care to share some examples? Why are "queers" so deletrious?

      In what way is a muslim or a "queer" or a socialist not an "ordinary citizen"? What must one do to fill the criteria?

      "Power to the people"? More like "Power to people like me"

  11. this is the result of political correctness. elites take us for fools and demand that every concession be made in favour of muslims with no reciprocity. this is what you get as a result. it didnt have to come to this, but as the politically correct get entrenched in their position, this will only get worse.

    • What concessions are being made in favour of muslims? (Other than treating them like human beings)

  12. you are right on there cher…maybe its the heat in the country…maybe its their teachings from the satanic verses…but they are a different sort who need therapy, there is a name for this madness…schizoid psychotic personality disorder with multi-level delusional feelings of grandeur …think that one covers all the mental disorders! not

    • I'm always found England to be cold and damp.

  13. It's a return to brinkmanship. Does society surrender it's uniqueness in favour of a blended global identity or does it re-root itself in it's traditional identity and exist as separately unique groups.
    If it's the former, then who decides what the ultimate make-up of it will be?
    If it's the later, then can becoming isolationists be avoided?

  14. None of the commentators here really know anything about the English Defence League. But basically everyone has given their tacit support for what amounts in practice to mob violence. Perhaps it is easy to be an armchair sociologist and speak about the frustration of "ordinary citizens" in a country you don't know about, but please tell me, would anyone here care to see an analogous scene here in Canada? Would posters here be comfortable if a crowd of people (many in masks) marched through certain neighbourhoods in Toronto, Vancouver or Montreal chanting "your not Canadian anymore"?

    Please stop and think. What is the logical end game of any of this? What do these people want, mass conversion to Christianity? Mass de-citizenship followed by forced expulsion? Again, its easy to sit in front of your computer and make academic arguments about a war of civilizations, but nothing is more dangerous to freedom than a violent mob that choses arbitrarily who belongs or not.

    • That is exactly what we are afraid of. If people shouts bigot and Islamophobia all the time concern is raised (instead of discussions and debate), then we might find it spilled into the street. People should be given proper venues and outlet to speak their concerns without labeling them as racists, so we could avoid what is happening in England.

      As for force conversion, they did exactly that in the past when they conquer most of Europe. They built residency for children to forcibly indoctrinate them to Islam.

      • racists is as racist does, how does it help to not identify racists as racists? that just gives them undeserved credibility and besides Islam is not a race though I understand what you mean by using that term, I myself prefer the term bigot since its not tied to any particular "anti" ideology like racism and is more accurate I think since perhaps some of them are racist against Arabs and south Asians or perhaps they just hate Muslims, the term bigot covers both nicely. Besides if they have the courage of their convictions they'd accept such labels but they aren't fooling anyone by trying to pretend they're just normal people with no unreasonable intolerance for any particular people.

        • That is exactly the attitude, why problems could not be discussed nor resolved.

      • What exactly are you concerned about? No generalities please, specific examples.

        Everyone has freedom of speech within certain limits (no immanent harm). But Islam has become so rapidly stereotyped just in the past year alone it seems, you shouldn't be surprised if some people aren't interested in prolonged conversation.

        Islam is a perfect abstract threat (much like communism), and ironically treating Islam as something homogenous and an inherent cause of fear is exactly what anyone with an ideological investment in violent fundamentalist Islam wants most. Look at the 'war on terror' in more detail: the loss of human life, the redistribution of wealth, the impact on a generation of Iraqis and Afghans who literally grew up under US occupation… at its core, the war on terror is a racket. And idolizing Islam as a threat is just a means to an ends that happens to work out for many different people (but not the vast majority of moderate people who don't mind so much about these theological differences as long as everyone is civil).

    • I think calling it an "academic" argument is being a bit generous

      • True enough.

        I guess what I meant was not grounded in general experience, but rumour and confirmation bias.

  15. There may be a tiny number of Islamic fundamentalists in the western world but the massive majority of Muslims in the west are not fundamentalists but average normal people. I think some who think like you assume because Islamic fundamentalism is a problem in the middle east that its also a problem in the west but that's not the case at all. Besides groups like EDL are not attacking Islamic fundamentalists but all Muslims regardless of their political and religious beliefs and that is most definitely bigoted. Its like assuming all Christians are like those who shoot abortion Drs and blow abortion clinics or like those who picket the funerals of soldiers blaming their deaths on the west's acceptance of LGBT people. Assuming everyone in any group are all alike and can be judged by the actions of a few is pretty much the definition of bigotry. How does attacking regular Muslim Brits or Muslim Canadians do anything to stop Islamic fundamentalism? in fact it would more likely have the exact opposite effect of fueling extremism and fundamentalism among Muslims who are being prevented from integrating as Muslims into western society because of the rampant bigotry against them there. People deserve to be treated as individuals and not as a homogeneous mass where everyone is identical.

    • That is exactly the reason why we are discussing this, so riots of this kind will not happen in Canada. Not by ignoring concerns but by discussing these concerns and addressing them as legitimate (especially as there are active recruitment for hijadists in the muslim community here in the West) can we avoid this. It would even be helpful, if there will be more Moderate muslims, like Tarek Fatah and others out there, who are willing to put their voices forward. Authorities should have programs in place for muslim youths to help them avoid the traps of these recruitments (not only by policing but counter the propaganda these recruiters are making) thus preventing them from being recruited like what happened to Toronto 18 and these current 4 batch, and who know how many others.

  16. Kindly address, discuss, and debate people regarding their real concerns without labeling them as bigots and Islamophobic? Aren't you sick of using Islamophobia as an excuse not to face the problems facing the Muslim world? Isn't that one of the reasons why most Islamic countries have so many problems, because they hate to look inward, and instead love to blame everybody else other than themselves? Let us take a look at your Sharia Law, if it is so good, how come most of your women in the muslim world have miserable lives? But then, why should you care if you are a man. They did try to establish it in Ontario, and it almost passed, if not for moderate courageous Muslims men and women campaigning against it.

    • We would love to address your real concerns but first you have to you tell us what they are. Vague platitudes and generalizations will simply be dismissed as indicative of bigotry.

      • Try reading Tarek Fatah's work at (http://www.averroespress.com/AverroesPress/Main/Main.html), listen to a Somali Canadian and what is happening to his community here in Toronto, while voicing his concern about active recruitment of Jihadists in Canada and inaction of Canadian authorities to prevent them. Those are only a few among a list of moderate Islam who raised an alarm on Western complacencies toward these issues. I would rather have authorities, have programs in place to counter Islamists propaganda to prevent and counter recruitment. I would rather like to prevent people from getting sucked into the fundamentalist cause than arresting them after the fact. Those jihadists and their families could have been saved from heartaches had recruitments countered before they were sucked in, let alone lives lost had they succeeded . As for your accusation of bigotry, you should have given your fellow Canadians credit for their tolerance and judgement. Not all Muslims are fundamentalists, Canadians know that. We also know that we owe much our Canadian security because of the work of moderate Muslims. Of course, there are certifiable bigots and idiots out there but most of those who have concerns are ordinary Canadians, even of races like me, who have real concerns.

      • In the middle ages, the Catholic church defended it's positionand controlled the flock with one word : heretic. Disagreement was heresy. Complaining that the priest screwed your daughter – heretic. Complaining the church took the best land – heretic. Complaining that reality had become utterly different than what the church thought police said it was – heretic. It was a powerful word that could have real consequences for anyone called it.

        In our day, "racist" and "bigot" are the new control words. Think that immigration should be halved, or in any way reduced whatsoever? Racist. Think it absurd that we should even be having a debate whether one group of citizens should be privileged to move about in public, banks, etc with their faces concealed? Racist. Think that the touted benefits of multiculturism like "diversity" are vague buzz-words to which no benefit can be pointed to in people's real lives? Racist.
        In summary: shut up you mass of public racists. Your intellectual betters shall decide what is good for you. Disagreement makes you a heretic…errr, racist.

  17. Islamophobes are always crying about being called racists, claiming they have legitimate, secular concerns that must be heard. And then they arbitrarily apply the completely imaginary concept of "race" and ascribe negative characteristics to a group of people that they perceive as different.

    This is a pretty good indicator that you are, in fact, a racist.

  18. Rich said " I've heard no attacks against LGBT folks from Muslim Canadians, perhaps thats because they're still working on getting settled in Canada or perhaps they realize that our socially liberal policies in Canada that grant equality rights to LGBT people also grants them equal rights too so they hesitate to attack that which also benefits themselves"

    No Rich, they see you as an abomination and a cancer -but an abomination and cancer on their enemies. They are happy to let you have Pride parades and be open about your sexuality because they believe you weaken and divide the society they want to overthrow and replace. Go read about how tolerant to gays muslim immigrants are when they get near majority status in Denmark, the Netherlands and Scandinavian countries – there are now "no go" areas in cities for gay men.

  19. Your idea that the constitutional separation of church and state would prevent sharia in a majority muslim country is amazingly naive. Not to mention misinformed, since that is only stated explicitly in the American constitution, not the Canadian one. A province can use the notwithstanding clause to opt out of any part of the constitution it wants – the suppression of English in Quebec being the best example.

  20. Umm. Stan… "near majority status"? According to the US State department, about 4% of Demnark is Muslim, 5% of Sweden, 6% of the Netherlands. (http://www.state.gov/g/drl/rls/irf/2009/127328.htm). And as that State Dept. report itself points out, their estimates are several times higher than those offered by Islamic organizations in those countries.
    Oh, and the Muslim Canadian Congress officially supported same-sex marriage. Sure, they're not the largest Islamic organization in the country, but they count for something. After all, the largest Christian organization in the country (the Catholic Church) is against same-sex marriage, too, and we don't say that all Christians view gays as an abomination.
    People who argue that Islam poses a serious threat to western democracy, in my view, show that they don't have much confidence in democracy.

    • It is good you refer to the work of the Muslim Canadian Congress. Hopefully, like them, you will lend your voice to the condemnation of Islam extremism.

      • Of course. As a strong supporter of liberal democracy, I oppose all attempts to silence rational discussion through acts of violence and terror. I also believe in the inherent superiority of liberal democracy to other systems and ideologies, which means I'm pretty confident that in the long run most of the rest of the world will come round to liberal democracy. Especially if those of us who are already in liberal democracies practice what we preach — it's when we behave illiberally or ungenerously towards other groups that we show our weakness and give comfort to our enemies.

        • So, when we behaved illiberallyu and ungenerously to that other group known as, uh, Hitler's Nazi's, we were showing weakness and giving comfort?

          Liberal behavior and generousity are proper towards the non-violent. Towards the violent they are folly.

          • Agreed, Stan… that's why we treat Muslims, Irish Catholics and French Canadians generously and liberally, and prosecute vigorously members of Al Qaeda, the IRA or the FLQ.

        • So if you practice what you preach, you have no problem with us discussing and debating the problem of rising Islamic fundamentalism as liberal society would?

    • Rotterdam and Amsterdam are currently near 30% Muslim, and since they settle in enclaves and not scattered evenly throughout the cities, they have made certain area no-go zones for native Netherlands woman and openly gay men.

      • Is this substantively a different problem than the fact that in most cities around the world poverty and violence make certain neighbourhoods no-go areas for anyone who has a choice? Both demand judicial action to prosecute those who are breaking the law, and both also require other kinds of intervention (especially economic and educational) to foster civil society.

        • I believe the problem in these areas, is many immigrants interact with their own race only , and refuse to interact and assimilate in their second home country. It is very difficult to educate these kind of people, unless you legislate it so, which I believe some countries in Europe are doing right now.