Opposing Islamification or Promoting Islamophobia? Understanding the English Defence League

Chris Allen

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    53 Citations (Scopus)


    The emergence and growth of the English Defence League (EDL) in the past two years as a socio-political mass movement are unprecedented in the British setting. Initially dismissed and duly condemned as a racist and Islamophobic far-right organization, little is known about the EDL. Allen's article begins by tracing the development of British far-right political groups that were trail-blazers in campaigning against the alleged threat posed by Muslims and Islam since 2001. The rise-and subsequent fall-of the British National Party is considered as a vehicle for understanding the climate in which hostility to Muslims has become increasingly apparent. It is in this context that the messages and discourse of the EDL are explored, as well as in regard to the organization's roots in the English football hooligan fraternity and specific events in Luton in the spring of 2009. Allen looks at the EDL's innovative use of social networking-in particular its use of Facebook-to support its street marches and protests, as well as its recognition of the economic impact it has had, given the costs associated with policing its marches and protests. Having established how the EDL is supported both actively and passively, not least through a somewhat unique coalition that brings together sometimes disparate groups on the basis of 'the enemy of my own enemy is my friend'-including groups that have historically been discriminated against by the far right-Allen considers the the arguments for recognizing the EDL as a multicultural movement. He concludes that the messages of the EDL are indeed Islamophobic-understanding Islamophobia as an ideological phenomenon-in that they create a form of order that clearly demarcates Islam as the Other.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)279-294
    Number of pages16
    JournalPatterns of Prejudice
    Issue number4
    Publication statusPublished - 7 Sept 2011


    • politics
    • Islamophobia
    • Islam
    • anti-Muslim prejudice
    • far right
    • English Defence League
    • racism
    • Muslims


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