Thursday, 25 August 2011

To Ban or Not to Ban? Tower Hamlets and The EDL

Police look set to ban the EDL (above) from marching in Tower Hamlets
An English Defence League (EDL) march set for next weekend is set to be banned by the Home Secretary after the police issued a request for the march not to go ahead.  The Home Secretary is only able to ban marches on the request of the police and it seems that the pressure on the police from residents of Tower Hamlets has finally paid off.

It does seem likely that Theresa May will approve the ban, particularly in the aftermath of the London riots and the links that have emerged over the past month between the EDL and the Norwegian terrorist, Anders Breivik.  

But will a ban actually be of any benefit?  

It is obvious why many people support banning the march.  The EDL are racist thugs.  They do not just oppose what they call "radical Islam", evident in the fact that they protest against the building of ANY mosque in the country.  Most EDL demos result in violence, against both the police and the local community where they march.  And many EDL members have been convicted of racially aggravated criminal offenses.  

But wouldn't banning the march just help sweep these extremists under the carpet?  Stopping the EDL from marching will not make the problem of far-right extremism go away, nor will it help relations between Muslims and people who may be sympathetic to the aims of the EDL.  

And lastly, as liberals, how can we justify banning people from protesting and exercising their right to free spech, just because we disagree with their views?

At The Urbanite, we are split on whether a ban is the best way to deal with an EDL march.  There are many good arguments on both sides.  But what we do know is that the EDL, being the media whores that they are, will still have achieved what they wanted all along - more publicity and media coverage.  

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