First off, I have a qualifying statement. I do not live in East London. In fact, I don’t live anywhere with a high Muslim population at all. I live in an overwhelmingly white area in central Scotland which does have a fair amount of eastern European immigrants (who are a normal part of the community), but very few Muslims. As such, I have never experienced Muslim extremism in my area or in my life. I don’t know what it’s like to see “Muslim patrols” on my streets or feel unsafe on certain streets in my area. I hear from others that there are parts of the country where this is the case, but I don’t have any first hand evidence of whether this happens or, if so, how bad it actually is. My view of Muslim communities is that they appear, in the main, to just be a bunch of people wanting to get on with their lives in peace. Just like the rest of us. Some folk, however, do seem interested in some sort of Islamic cultural and religious revolution in the UK, but they are a very small minority
Regardless of all of this, when I see far-right groups demonising Islam and Muslims because of their religion and the actions of the few it angers me. None more so than this video by Britain First, a political body which has fielded candidates in recent elections and has an increasing presence on social media, particularly Facebook. In this video the group have announced that they are combating “Muslim Patrols” in what they call “Muslim East London”, by sending out self-styled “Christian Patrols” designed to “take our streets back”.
They start off by showing us evidence of the Muslim Patrols, roaming the street telling people not to drink alcohol as this is a “Muslim area”.
Now, if this is happening then it clearly needs to stop. Note something, though. The whole way through this section that logo fills the whole left hand side of the screen. This means that you never actually see the faces of the patrol members, just those they approach, like the guy in this shot. We hear the words of the patrol members, but, as far as evidence goes, never seeing them seems a tad suspect. How genuine is this clip? Are we seeing what is actually being presented to us? It’s difficult to tell.
So, “enough is enough”. What looks like no more than 2 or 3 guys going round telling people not to drink (if that’s what is actually happening) is such a threat that Britain First needs to do something. They need to launch “Christian Patrols”.
Now, to my mind, we already have Christian Patrols. People going out in the name of Jesus helping those on the streets in vulnerable positions to stay as safe as they can. They’re called Street Pastors and they go out in peace, love and compassion on the streets of many of our towns and cities every week.
Britain First has a very different view of what a Christian Patrol should be.
Here we see the chairman of Britain First, Paul Golding, explaining what they are doing. They will patrol East London with about 10-15 activists (considerably more than the Muslim Patrols seem to have) handing out leaflets, going into pubs and warning people of the scourge of the Muslim Patrol. They will, of course, be peaceful and loving as a group of Christians should be as they patrol London in…
…an armoured Land Rover! In fact, two armoured Land Rovers. Because nothing says “we come in peace” like vehicles altered to give the appearance of a military convoy in a war zone. Anybody would think they were trying to intimidate people, but that can’t be right. Can it?
He also discusses how, if they come across a Muslim Patrol (something which, pointedly, doesn’t happen in this video) they will confront them and tell them to “sod off”. In a reasoned, polite manner, I assume.
Note the crusader style cross on the leaflets, too. Let there be no doubt that this is nothing to do with stopping fear and intimidation, this is all about trying to assert domination over Muslims by using fear and intimidation.
We then see the Christian Patrol handing out leaflets, harassing people on the streets and telling a bunch of Muslim looking young men that “this is our country and if you want to live here you need to follow our laws”. No context is given at all about these young Muslims who may, as far as we know, be peaceful, law-abiding men. They may not even be immigrants themselves. However, the message is clear. If you’re not white, you’re a target for Britain First’s self-righteous, racist ire.
The next move is for activists to try to bait these Muslim Patrols out by standing outside the East London Mosque drinking and smoking. The hope is that some sort of confrontation will happen in order to “do something”. What, I don’t know.
Oh! Hold on! That’s a little more than drinking and smoking, isn’t it? That’s outright provocation by means of aggressive language. If a group of young Muslims approached a man about drinking and smoking near a mosque then I could understand the discontent. This, however, is clearly designed to provoke pretty much any passing Muslim into action. If this was turned on its head and a group of young Muslims stood outside my church with a banner saying “We are the Muslim resistsnce” then I think I’d be asking them what they think they’re doing too.
Interestingly, this doesn’t seem to happen. Maybe the attendees at this Mosque just can’t be bothered with this group of idiots. If so, fair play to them.
They finish with this,
If this doesn’t anger you, then it should do. Lee Rigby’s family have consistently distanced themselves from Britain First’s use of the murdered soldier in their propaganda. This culminated in their anger over Britain First’s use of Lee Rigby’s name on ballot papers.
His mother is absolutely clear that they have no support for Britain First’s views and that Lee would not have done either.
This group are nothing but far-right, racist, intimidating thugs. They have, through some rather clever manipulation, built up a decent following for their bile on Facebook. Many who follow and share their material are reasonable people who are being emotionally manipulated by people who claim the moniker of Christian. Please do not fall for it.
“Do not judge others, so that God will not judge you, for God will judge you in the same way as you judge others, and he will apply to you the same rules you apply to others. Why, then, do you look at the speck in your brother’s eye, and pay no attention to the log in your own eye? How dare you say to your brother, ‘Please, let me take that speck out of your eye,’ when you have a log in your own eye? You hypocrite! First take the log out of your own eye, and then you will be able to see clearly to take the speck out of your brother’s eye.” (Matthew 7:1-5 GNBDC)
Yes, there are extremists out there. Yes, we need to fight back against extremism. But that’s the point. It’s not Islam which is the enemy, but those things which distract us from love and turn us into people who hate. You can’t fight extremism with more extremism. You can’t look at Muslim extremists and hate Muslims any more than you can look at Christian extremists and hate Christians. Muslims, Christians, Jews, Hindus, Sikhs, Atheists and those of all other beliefs (or lack of beliefs) need to work together to combat this through education and understanding of each other. We can’t do it through propagating fear and hatred.
Please, if you follow Britain First on Facebook or Twitter, stop. They are not “patriots”, they are not “Christians”, they are right-wing extremists. They are fascists. They are racist.
They need calling out for this and being ignored for it.