Hundreds of English Defence League members made a trip to Birmingham on Saturday to continue doing what they love: getting drunk in public and shouting about how much they hate Muslims.By 11AM, around 200 of them had gathered at the Bar Risa in Broad Street. More continued to pour in, some waving flags, some just chanting the same poorly-informed anti-Islamic invective they've been reciting for the past couple of years. Before long, the march was underway, with the EDL supporters advancing along Broad Street towards Centenary Square. The only real disturbance at this point was one lone passer-by screaming, "Fuck off, you fascists!" before being manhandled away by the local police.
Reaching the square, the crowd gathered around the Cenotaph to listen to their leader. Steve Eddowes – who became EDL chairman after former boss Tommy Robinson decided he didn't want to be a bigot any more – told his "soldiers" about the "Dirty Dozen" issues that had brought them there. Those issues were exactly the kind of things you'd expect an Islamophobic street gang to get angry about: a new mosque being built in Dudley; the existence of Halal food; some other stuff that really doesn't affect them in any tangible way.One key point was the abuse of English girls by Muslim men in Rotherham and across the country, though speakers conveniently ignored the fact that many of the victims were Muslim themselves, choosing to paint the abuse as an explicit attack on the UK by the evil forces of Islam.Taken as a whole, it boiled down to blaming Muslims for pretty much every bad thing to befall Britain over the past half a decade.The rally finished earlier than expected and the police were careful not to allow the EDL supporters to clash with the 300-plus Unite Against Fascism supporters who were holding a counter demonstration in Victoria Square.However, it wouldn’t be an EDL demo if nobody got arrested, and after a relatively uneventful day several small groups of EDL supporters managed to get embroiled in tussles on the way back to their coaches, with ten of them subsequently being nicked for public order offences.