And there’s much more to follow.
Aeneas of the International Civil Liberties Alliance has compiled an analysis of the ICSR report from the perspective of the British Counterjihad.
The British Counterjihad Movement
The ICSR report, “A Neo-Nationalist Network: The English Defence League and Europe’s Counter-Jihad Movement”, by Alexander Meleagrou-Hitchens and Hans Brun, was obviously intended to damage the English Defence League, perhaps with an eye to supporting an eventual ban on it. To that end, it missed no opportunity to warn about possible ‘fascist’ characteristics and the potential for the emergence of ‘neo-Nazis’ in the group. Yet it is unable to present any evidence for such ‘tendencies’, merely offering vague warnings about bad things that somehow, someday, just might happen.
In contrast, by quoting from relevant EDL documents and other sources of information, it repeatedly presents evidence that the EDL is classically liberal, law-abiding, non-violent, and open to the inclusion of racial and other minorities. By showing the positive side of the movement, it has done the EDL and the European Counterjihad a great service.
This peculiar inconsistency — an obvious prejudice against the EDL accompanied by hard evidence that portrays the organisation in a good light — is hard to explain. Yet such contradictions appear repeatedly in the report.
The ICSR paper is too large to cover in its entirety. In my brief analysis below, I shall just touch upon some of the more important points.
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In its discussion of the EDL’s Mission Statement, the report engages in the most desperate circumlocutions to find ways to criticise the EDL’s warm embrace of ethnic minority communities. In this and other analyses, the authors seem to be suggesting that it is illiberal to oppose the illiberal.
Conversely, it does not address those aspects of Islam that the Counterjihad is concerned about; it just glosses over them. It pretends these crucial issues — involving real violence and real oppression — are due to misunderstanding, yet it never gives the Counterjihad any similar benefit of the doubt. Instead, it does what it can to demonise and delegitimise it.
Nationalism and ‘Cultural Nationalism’
The report places far too much emphasis on nationalism in its analysis of the Counterjihad. Nationalism is important to many supporters, but that is not the main thrust of Counterjihad, which is based firmly on the bedrock of tradition Enlightenment freedoms.
Part 3 puts forward the idea that the EDL is essentially a nationalist movement, and again ignores the central components of Counterjihad ideology that helped to shape the group. In many respects the EDL has a supranational vision. It is an organisation that seeks to unite people of all races and nationalities. It should come as no surprise that the EDL has attracted admiration across Europe, North America, and even as far away as non-Western India. It has been able to do this because it has cross-cultural appeal, something that a purely nationalist group would be incapable of achieving.
Much of the report focuses on what it considers the main preoccupation of the Counterjihad, the issue of ‘preserving European culture’. While this may be one of the goals of many EDL supporters, it is not the essence of its being. Its broader focus is reflected in the initiatives that the EDL has undertaken, including the establishment of the Jewish, Sikh, and LGBT Divisions and the way it actively encourages the participation of ethnic minorities. The EDL has even stated that it is a multicultural organisation.