Over 150 English Defence League members marched to pay their respects to those killed on 9/11 at the Grosvenor Square memorial, going on for a brief stop at the American Embassy before going to protest at the Saudi Embassy. London, UK. 11/09/201
Over 150 English Defence League members marched to pay their respects to those killed on 9/11 at the Grosvenor Square memorial, going on for a brief stop at the American Embassy before going on to protest at the Saudi Embassy. London, UK. 11/09/2010
The English Defence League (EDL) gathered at the 'Hog in the Pound' next to Bond Street station and were met by a group of press photographers. This time there were no incidents or arguments with the photographers by the EDL and a number of the marchers posed to have their pictures taken.
Eventually the EDL set off to march the short distance to Grosvenor Square Gardens, with one woman member carrying a large wreath to lay there, with the message "Victims of 9/11. We deeply regret the loss on that sad day. English Defence League." A little way behind in the crowd was another woman carrying the EDL Dudley Division wreath, with its message "Never Forget & Never Surrender."
As the march came into Grosvenor Square, the marchers became silent, forming up into a row facing the memorial with their banners while the wreaths were being laid. They then observed a two minute silence before marching away to the US Embassy. There photographers mingled with the marchers, taking more photographs and talking to the marchers.
From the US Embassy the marchers went to the Saudi Embassy for a highly vocal protest over the terrorist atrocity in New York and Islamic extremism more widely. At first the police took them to a pound in Charles St, opposite the back door of the Embassy, but after some discussion were persuaded to let them demonstrate opposite the front of the embassy in Curzon St.
In both places several people set fire to black A4 sheets with white Islamic text which apparently included the name of Allah. There were also a number of clearly Islamophobic chants, including a blasphemous declaration of paedophilia.
The group of press photographers soon decided to make their way back to the US Embassy to cover the protest expected there by Muslims Against the Crusades. As we left the Saudi Embassy, the police were starting to lead the EDL away in the direction of Green Park Station.
Later a few of the EDL came to Grosvenor Square Gardens and protested against the Muslims Against the Crusades. At one point one of them threw an open beer can into the crowd, splashing many of us. Police soon grabbed several of them and led them away, and moved others who tried to approach the demonstration away.
Almost an hour later a group of around 100 EDL came back to Grosvenor Square, and were held by police opposite the other end of the front of the embassy around a hundred yards from the MAC demonstration. At one point the EDL briefly pushed through the police line (and had thrown another beer can) but were stopped almost immediately as both police and EDL steward held them back. The police then regrouped and the two groups were still shouting at each other when I left the square half and hour later.
The EDL was formed from a number of existing groups of politicised football supporters following demonstrations by the MAC and their predecessors at Luton and Birmingham. Although they clearly state that they are only against Muslim extremists and not Muslims in general, many of the slogans that they chant fail to make this distinction and would be offensive to all Muslims and many other British people.