On 26 January the Worker-Communist Party of Iran's front organisation, One Law for All, held a seminar at Conway Hall in London under the title "Enemies not Allies", the purported aim of which was to repudiate both far-right organisations who use opposition to Islam to promote hatred of Muslims and also left-wingers who have worked with Islamists to resist racism and imperialist war. As the publicity for the seminar put it: "Bigots and neo-Nazis feigning to campaign for rights… 'anti-racist' groups promoting fascism… 'anti-war' rallies run by supporters of terrorism and dictatorship… Enough!"
The rejection of "bigots and neo-Nazis feigning to campaign for rights" didn't go down too well with one of the platform speakers, however. Douglas Murray, Director of the Centre for Social Cohesion, couldn't see why it was wrong for more mainstream right-wing Islamophobes such as himself to express solidarity with the likes of the EDL. As Murray put it:
"The English Defence League when they started protesting had banners saying things like 'Sharia law discriminates against women', 'Sharia law is anti-gay'. Well I'm good with both of those sentiments, I'm sure most people in this room are. If you're ever going to have a grassroots response from non-Muslims to Islamism that would be how you'd want it, surely."
As for the well-exposed links between the EDL and fascism, Murray claimed that the EDL "have tried to kick out BNP elements". He refused to be "definitive" about the possibility that the EDL is racist and concluded: "These things are extremely complex and we should be careful before dismissing whole swathes of people."
The EDL evidently reciprocates this admiration, which is hardly surprising. After all, in addition to his friendly words about the EDL at the One Law for All seminar, Murray is on record as telling the 2006 Pim Fortuyn Memorial Conference:
"It is late in the day, but Europe still has time to turn around the demographic time-bomb which will soon see a number of our largest cities fall to Muslim majorities. It has to. All immigration into Europe from Muslim countries must stop.... Conditions for Muslims in Europe must be made harder across the board."
Every word of which would of course be endorsed by the EDL.
Postscript: Murray's favourable comments about the EDL were particularly remarkable given that he had previously gone out of his way to dissociate himself from them.
In September 2009 Murray bumped into the EDL when they arrived at an Isle of Dogs pub where he was holding a discussion with Robert Spencer and others, having been invited by a right-wing US outfit called the Christian Action Network. The Centre for Social Cohesion issued a statement on behalf of Murray, which was posted at Barthlomew's Notes on Religion, emphasising that "upon seeing the presence of the EDL at the CAN discussion he refused to deal with them and left the venue". In other words, precisely the sort of "no platform" response to the EDL that Murray now denounces as "such a bloody left-wing thing to do".
Sunny Hundal posted a piece at Pickled Politics, based on the original account at Bartholomew's Notes, in which he criticised Murray for hanging out with the EDL. The references to Murray were quickly removed, however. According to one account, this was because Sunny had "received some sort of legal threat" from Murray. Indeed, in January 2010, under the heading "Douglas Murray: A Clarification", Sunny posted the following retraction at Pickled Politics:
"On my blog for 9 September 2009 about the English Defence League, I suggested that Douglas Murray of the Centre for Social Cohesion was a friend and supporter of the EDL and Christian Action Network. I was wrong about this. Mr Murray has clarified to me that he supports neither of these organisations and I apologise."
So only a year ago Murray regarded the allegation that he was a supporter of the EDL as so defamatory that he was prepared to take legal action to defend his reputation. Yet now he apparently sees the EDL as potential allies in the fight against Islamism. Perhaps Murray might like to offer a clarification of his own?