Muslim LGBTQ organisation Imaan have today released a press statement proving supected links between the organisers of East End Gay Pride (EEGP) and the English Defence League (EDL).
Raymond Berry, one of EEGP’s main organisers, has a rather colourful history of late. One of the founding members of the EDL, he left following leadership disputes but has continued his involvement in other anti-islamic organisations such as “Stop the Islamification of Europe” and “No Sharia in Britian”.
As recently as September he was expelled from his RMT branch – no doubt a result of the EDL’s fascistic views on Trade Unionism (and the RMT in particular) as being ‘Communist conspiracies’.
Imaan will be releasing further material this Thursday to prove links between the remaining organisers of EEGP – who they claim have been entirely unresponsive to dialogue – and nationalist, fascist and anti-muslim groups.
With this evidence in mind, WAG would like to make it clear that they are no longer prepared to give the organisers the benefit of the doubt and assume that they are simply lacking a political education with regards to the problematic nature of their positions. It seemed prudent, at first, to avoid the assumption that a political initiative (however clumsy and problematic) happening outside the knowledge and involvement of the usual suspects (and yes, that includes WAG) is somehow the work of outside agitators. This is clearly no longer the case and the divisive politics of the EDL will not be tolerated in Tower Hamlets – not by WAG or anyone.
Also, WAG members cannot help but be concerned about the affiliations of The White Swan pub in Limehouse.
The White Swan is planning to host the afterparty for – and is the main sponsor of – the EEGP demo. Given that one organiser has already been outed as EDL and there are more yet to come (assuming Imaan are correct), the EDL (or other anti-muslim groups) are clearly hoping the venue will offer them an outposting in the LGBTQ community in Tower Hamlets.
The EDL planned to assemble outside this venue when they first threatened to come to E1 last year and WAG members voiced concerns about their attempts to position themselves as radical and progressive elements within the LGBTQ community in Tower Hamlets. The nature of their attempted visit was in response to an Islamist conference at the Troxy, which had a number of viciously homophobic speakers (and the rest). WAG argued in meetings that if we did not address the homophobia of these speakers, then we ran the risk of leaving open a political vacuum with regards to a critique of the bigoted nature of the islamist conference, which the EDL would attempt to fill. Needless to say, we were shouted down and called “Islamophobic” by Unite Against Fascism (UAF); forever scared to construct an inclusive critique of fascism in all it’s colours lest it stray too far from their liberal, patronising and ineffective politics.
On the EDL LGBT Facebook page, they claim:
“Out East weren’t concerned about the islamic fascists having huge conferences in The Troxy in Stepney in 2009 and 2010. Only EDL got that venue closed off to the homophobic fascists.”
This is clearly nonsense. The Troxy reviewed their decision to host the event for various reasons. Despite the fact that Out East were not yet in existence (correct me if i’m wrong), this does illustrate first hand what happens when we allow anti-muslim groups a monopoly on criticism of Islamism.
Local radicals need to think very wisely – and collectively – about how they approach this situation. The most important thing to avoid here is playing into the hands of the fascists (on both sides) and sparking some disgusting conflict between the LGBTQ community and the Muslim community.
After all, not all gay people are flag-waving, anti-muslim thickos and not all muslims are gay-bashing ‘extremists’. There are significant numbers within both sections of society who are sick of all this shit. We need to ensure we all work together on keeping our area free from the divisive opportunism of our would-be dictators.