Exclude Pastor Jones

13 Dec 2010 by CST

Update, within hours of posting the below article, CST has seen an EDL statement in which they say that contrary to media reports, they did not invite Pastor Jones to speak, but that he had approached them and they had agreed "in principle". However, EDL now say that he will not be  attending the Luton demonstration as they feel some of his statements make it inappropriate for him to do so, particularly given the different groups with whom EDL seeks to work. (It would seem that Jones's Koran burning threats are not the primary reason for EDL's decision, although the statement does disagree with burning the Koran, as EDL wish people to read it and then be extremely hostile against it.) 

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The English Defence League has invited Pastor Terry Jones, best known for his threat to burn the Koran on the anniversary of 9/11 this year, to speak at an EDL demonstration in Luton in February next year.

This is not the first time that the EDL have looked to America to boost their public profile. In October they invited Rabbi Nachum Shifren from California to address a rally outside the Israeli embassy in London. Shifren is very much a lone voice in the American Jewish community - not a "senior US rabbi" as he was wrongly described in the Observer, a mistake which the newspaper has now corrected - and his message was rejected across the British Jewish community. Now Pastor Jones, who was condemned throughout the United States for his Koran-burning plan, is the next American guest of the EDL.

Yet this invitation exposes as a sham the EDL's efforts to portray themselves as a non-racist organisation that is merely concerned with Islamist extremism. Pastor Jones, by threatening to burn the Koran, clearly targets Islam as a religion and all observant Muslims, rather than just focusing on extremist activity. In addition, Jones has described Judaism, Hinduism and Buddhism (as well as Islam) as being "of the devil". The EDL's demonisation of all Muslims is reason enough to reject them; even more so because, as their invitation to Pastor Jones shows, their message of hatred is of a type that never remains limited to one community and always risks a more generalised growth in bigotry against all minorities.

CST has consistentlycondemned the EDL and similar groups. The EDL and Jones are a perfect match: both use inflammatory rhetoric and deliberately offensive actions, to incite hatred and division between communities. EDL demonstrations often lead to violent disorder and racist targeting of local residents.  Luton in particular is sadly no stranger to extremist activity of all types; the plan to bring Pastor Jones to Luton seems designed to ratchet up the tension there as high as possible. For this reason, CST backs the calls by Hope Not Hate, John Cruddas MP and others for the Home Secretary to exclude Pastor Jones from the UK.


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