This weekend saw the English defense League pouring into Rochdale to protest against what they believe was underlying cultural issues which saw nine men convicted last month for grooming under-age girls for sex.
EDL visited last year too in March, voicing concern over the same issue.
But this time it was different. The arguments were more refined and directed.
It wasn’t the usual rants that have been echoed by EDL members at national rallies; “extremist Islam is the problem”, or “Muslims want Shariah law”.
Outside Rochdale Town centre, EDL leader, Tommy Robinson held the Quran and said, “This book legitimises the rape, prostitution and abuse of our daughters”.
Crowds cheered him on as he continued to deplore what he referred to as a ‘7th century text’ “The reason why these men rape these children it could be because they’re perverted criminals, but It could be they’re following this manual.
"When will the police and Politicians realise the link between this and them men raping our kids…..This is the link. Be brave enough to identify it” Said Tommy Robinson In front of a packed crowd of around 200 people he said publicly “What is stopping me from burning it (the Quran)?”
Protestors in the crowd began jeering, whilst some said “Let me burn it Tommy” offering lighters.
The calls of MP Geert Wilders to ban the Quran, describing it as the equivalent to Hitler’s ‘mein kampf’ and Pastor Jone’s Publicity act of ‘Burn a Quran’ Day may have seemed far off events, distant to the shores of Britain and too notorious for a ‘mature’ Democracy like Britain.
But the recent rants in the Rochdale rally may have made us realize that its more closer to home than anticipated.
It is surprising to see there has been no de-radicalisation programs from the government for EDL.
No demands to report their activities.
No demand of surveillance from University lecturers to spot signs of radical views. N No government funding being poured into these communities to work ‘grassroots’ on tackling the ‘problem’ and no signs of proscription for the threatening and inciting comments, especially those aired in Rochdale town centre on the weekend.
Majed Iqbal is a writer and commentator. majedsblog.wordpress.com