A huge demonstration held by tens of thousands of British citizens against jihadism in their own country, attracted little mainstream media attention.
On Saturday 7 October, the Football Lads Alliance (FLA) came together in London against Islamic terrorism and sharia in Britain.
The march drew tens of thousands of people, but the media’s only reference to the FLA gathering was to call the demonstration “racist” and “far-right”.
People from all over the country, from different backgrounds, challenged the media’s narrative however.
Tommy Robinson, one of the participants, spoke to a BBC journalist present who openly admitted that, if they were going to run the story, the FLA would be described as “far-right” for demanding controlled immigration.
The former English Defence league leader, Robinson, accused the BBC of demonizing many innocent people who are rightly concerned about jihadism and called them “lying, fake news”. He also noted that the BBC had made it impossible for people to discuss the rampant Islamization of Britain. Robinson said the BBC had an agenda. “You’re here to get bad footage. That’s why you are here. And if you can’t get bad footage, you won’t report on it.”
Robinson may be right of course, since the peaceful march drew almost no media attention, despite the massive crowd. He called the march “historic” in the sense that football fans from different clubs came together in support, something that would have been impossible earlier given the rivalries that exist in soccer.
The only violence, Robinson noted, usually come from leftists who try to derail such anti-Islamic demonstrations.
As former spokesman and leader of the English Defence League (EDL), a street protest movement, he had also founded the European Defence League, and for a short time in 2012 was joint party vice-chairman of the British Freedom Party.
The marchers expressed their concern over the rising influence of Islam in the UK. There were no flags, no chanting and no fear, Robinson noted. He called it the birth of a new organisation.
The FLA had assembled at Hyde Park Corner to listen to speeches given from atop a double decker bus. One of the organisers who spoke to crowd from the top of a red London bus wearing a #standuptoterror T-shirt, said Islamists were actively targeting British children on UK soil, as was evident from the Manchester bombing.
He quoted from Winston Churchill to loud cheers, saying: “We shall never surrender!”
“We want to get Britain back from extremism,” said Paul Shepard, 54, who travelled in from Southend. “We don’t care who comes out, whether its gays or Muslims, as long as they support us … but football fans are at the core of it.”
Wreaths were laid on Westminster Bridge, where five people were killed when a vehicle rammed them in March.
Robinson interviewed one of the participants, an Iranian, who described how he had fled from encroaching sharia laws in his country. Iran was a secular country untill 1979 he said. He said the leftists in Iran “went to bed” with radical Islamists but the leftists themselves were ironically also the first victims of radicals. “But they don’t seem to learn from that,” he said.
There were many blacks who participated in the march and who ridiculed the mainstream media’s narrative of “racists”. One black man said of the mostly white male marchers: “They are people here are just genuine, open and nice people.” He added: “I can’t see how anyone here could see a march of hate or a march of bigotry. It’s just not. It’s common sense.”
One of the organisers pointed out that the UK government has admitted that 23 000 jihadists were “lurking out there, somewhere”. He said the marchers want the authorities to act on that and start arresting jihadists.
Weyman Bennett, co-convenor of Stand up to Racism denounced the rally: “We believe there is a real danger that the event could open the door to far right groups, that want to promote racism and Islamophobia.”
But Michael Bradley, also of Stand up to Racism, was present at the event, and told The Independent there were some marchers who were not racist and were genuinely concerned about terror attacks. He nevertheless expressed concern about how “tolerated” Tommy Robinson was by organisers.
Robinson regularly wears a bullet-proof vest when appearing in public. He told the BBC earlier that his business and his home have been attacked, and that he had been personally threatened by armed Muslims.
Dean Essery, 53, attended the rally with his black friend. “Its about making the government understand that people are fed up,” he said. “Terrorism is being ignored by the government.”
Other marchers were more direct, however. “Muslims aren’t part of the country,” said one. “They don’t mingle. They send their kids to madrassas [Muslim schools]. We’re being overrun and can’t say nothing about it. If you say so you get called racist.”
At one point, a small group of counter demonstrators, vastly outnumbered, held up a banner “No to Islamophobia”. On seeing the banner, one FLA marcher remarked: “They shouldn’t be here. “F****** paedophiles.”