Last Sunday, my good friends the EDL came back to London for the first time in six months. They brought with them their new BFF, the Tea Party member and far-right rabbi, Nachum Shifren, aka The Surfing Rabbi.
After being run out of town by the Muslim Defence League at violent demos in Bradford and Leicester, the EDL reached out to their confused cousins across the pond, The Tea Party, in an attempt to expand their fanbase.
The protest started around the corner from the Israeli embassy on Kensington High Street, where the rabbi and other EDL members had planned to make some speeches. Confused shoppers looked on as an Orthodox Jew, with more than a passing resemblance to Osama Bin Laden, hung out with some skinheads shouting some bad stuff about Muslims.
Of course, it wouldn't be an EDL demo unless nemesis-group the UAF turned up with their friends to shout "Nazi" a lot.
As usual I received a warm welcome. Hi guys!
For all the anger in the air, confusion seemed to be the day's dominant theme. Some EDL members proudly hoisted the Rainbow Flag above their heads, while others carried signs supporting the lack of gay rights in Gaza. I was repeatedly asked by an EDL member carrying the stars and stripes if I loved the St. George's flag, and the word "Paki" was barked at anyone with dark skin who happened to be walking past.
Before the Surfing Rabbi got his turn on the soapbox, one of the EDL's leaders, Kevin Carroll, got the chance to speak. The paper he's reading his speech off contains "evidence" of the Koran's intolerance, taken from Wikipedia--more reminiscent of a lazy, plagiarizing student than a learned religious scholar. Kev's decision to ignore the bile flung at gays, adulterers, and non-believers in the Bible would have probably seemed less hypocritical were it not for the fact he's already been outed as a fucking racist.
The EDL love Chinese food almost as much as they love Nazi salutes, rabbis, and failing to start holy wars.
Just before the rabbi's speech, a demonstrator who had been hanging out with the EDL in their specially designated pen moved out of the demo area and ran around the back near the EDL's PA system. As Kevin Carroll's speech was winding up he poured a bottle of water all over their PA and legged it. Predictably enough, this whipped the EDL into a frenzy and they desperately tried to attack the perpetrator but were beaten back by police.
They whined to the police for a while about their equipment getting vandalized before someone fixed the PA and the rabbi came on. Seems even he had caught the confusion bug, though, as he began by lauding the EDL and Tea Party as champions of free speech, before promising to dismantle the liberal, left-wing media if he ever got any power in this country. Such are the paradoxes of the EDL utopia.
A racist nine-year-old.
Once the speeches had finally finished the police told the EDL to head home, but on their way back a few attacked the press, again, and got arrested by the police, again. Rabbi Shifren had other ideas, and decided to go up to Speakers' Corner in Hyde Park to air his confusing views to the masses and the other theological and moral perverts that congregate there every Sunday.
About half of the original demonstrators followed the rabbi to Speakers' Corner, but Shifren had to settle for a patch of nearby grass after the police refused to let them congregate right next to the radical Islamic clerics. Again, he claimed to be standing up for democracy, but as soon as anyone questioned his views the EDL buried the perpetrator under a hail of insults, placing particular emphasis on the words "cunt," "Paki," "Muzzo" and "traitor." If being English means looking, sounding, acting, and smelling like the EDL, I'd rather be French.
The large crowd that had gathered to hear the views of the EDL were obviously confused by their need to fly a rabbi in from LA to speak for them (at a cost of £3000).
The crowd, again growing bored of the rabbi's speech, was beginning to disperse when a few EDL members happened upon some young, white, English Muslim converts. It was a notion the EDL found so hard to compute that the only appropriate response they could conjure was a brawl, for which three of them were arrested.
After the arrests, the police had finally had enough of the EDL, and so, after five long hours, countless yawn-inducing, contradictory speeches, and sporadic outbreaks of violence, the EDL and their American friend were herded through Hyde Park like a lost gang of school children—minus the GCSEs and picnic baskets, but with a similar desire to find out where mother had gotten to.