In September 2009, as the organisation was preparing for a major demonstration in Manchester the following month, the English Defence League (EDL) released a video on YouTube entitled, ‘English Defence League response to the lies of the UAF and some elements of the press’. (The UAF, Unite Against Fascism, is an anti-fascist group active in countering English Defence League demonstrations.) The video was filmed in a disused warehouse in Luton. Lined against one wall of a large empty room are around twenty men dressed in black, their faces concealed behind balaclavas. One reads a prepared statement, while another sets fire to a Nazi flag that has been hoisted in front of the men. The EDL spokesman says burning this flag will prove his organisation is not a far-Right group motivated by racism but simply opposes those he calls ‘Islamic extremists’. Addressing himself to these extremists, he announces: ‘We the English Defence League will contest your kind, as our forefathers did, relentlessly pursuing you in our quest to see all sharia banished from our great democratic country. Long live the free.’ Anyone can join the EDL if they share this stance, he says, even anti-extremist Muslims. Behind the men hang placards with the slogans, ‘Black and white, unite and fight’ and ‘We support Israel’s right to exist’. After the spectacle of the flag-burning, the camera zooms in on one section of EDL members, to demonstrate from the skin colour of their forearms that this gathering includes black men as well as white. In the description that accompanies the video on YouTube, a supporter has written: ‘How anyone can call this group far right fascist Nazis is beyond belief. Since when were Nazi groups multi-race?!? It’s not racist to oppose Islamic Extremism!’

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