This weekend (1/2 June) the English Defence League will hold demonstrations in towns and cities across the country. By blaming all Muslims for the shocking murder in Woolwich last week they will attempt to shape and focus a prevailing climate of fear and rejection that has been growing now for many years. Stark evidence of the current climate is recorded this morning on the website of the Institute of Race Relations (http://www.irr.org.uk/news/upsurge-in-anti-muslim-attacks/).
‘We the British people,’ says a declaration drafted by Hope not Hate and to be published tomorrow in the Daily Mirror (http://action.hopenothate.org.uk/page/s/we-are-the-many?), ‘shun the EDL’s message of hate because they do not speak for us. We are confident that hope will prevail. It will prevail because they are the few, and we are – and always will be – the many.’
Such declarations are, yes, important. Also, of course, there’s much long-term and medium-term work to do to challenge and remove the climate of fear and rejection known as Islamophobia. The required work includes the kind of wonderful little initiative reported this week from York (http://www.gq-magazine.co.uk/comment/articles/2013-05/29/english-defence-league-protest-york-mosque), but much else besides. Various thoughts and resources for the medium-term and long-term work, particularly but not only in the education system, are listed in recently revised web pages on the Insted website (http://www.insted.co.uk/islam.html). The pages are extremely modest in relation to the overall task. They may nevertheless, hopefully, be useful.