Sunday, September 8, 2013

EDL Protest - Analysis

Yesterday in London, the Metropolitan Police arrested approximately 165 individuals on suspicion of public order related offenses. The trouble occurred during a protest march by the English Defense League (EDL).

I have a number of thoughts.

UK Speech Laws are Counter-Productive
The latest arrest of the EDL's leader, Tommy Robinson, will only empower him further. As is the case in much of Europe, the UK's speech laws are overly broad and unjustifiably destructive of individual rights to free expression. These laws are also fundamentally counterproductive to the cause of tolerance. Consider Tommy Robinson. A PR savvy guy; whether staging 'unjust' arrests for propaganda purposes (see view count on 'unjust' link), or adeptly shifting his style for different audiences - supporters and doubters, Robinson manipulates the law to his own advantage. Even if indirectly, Robinson has used British speech laws to portray himself as a crusading patriot for freedom (note EDL imagery - see point (3)).

The Metropolitan Police have refined their public order capabilities/strategy
It's hard to overstate the difficulty of policing EDL protests. This effort involves three distinct challenges. For a start, the Police must deal with groups of angry (often intoxicated) individuals in a manner that protects the public. Second, the Police must ensure protesters are able to exercise their democratic rights to protest. Third, the Police must manage the protection of the protesters. This third point is crucial. Here, the Police are forced to address violent counter-protests, as well as serious counter-terrorism concerns. Evidenced by the June 2012 Dewsbury plot, the EDL has become a target for Islamic extremists. In cumulative terms, these challenges mean that British Police forces must apply diverse and resource intensive efforts towards the security of short duration and comparatively small protests. Fortunately, by the standard of yesterday's security operation, the Metropolitan Police are doing fine work.

Americans must not fall for the EDL's BS
Look, I'm the first to suggest that many Islamic rooted societies face serious challenges. Nevertheless, this doesn't mean that we should resort to prejudice against Muslims. At present, casual anti-Islamic sentiment finds far too much sympathy in our society. 

It's crucial that whenever he pops up in US media, Tommy Robinson be judged with objective scrutiny. In the end, Robinson is a thug.

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