The English Defence League has latched onto the decision to ban the Norwich Reformed Church from council premises as a result of a complaint about their distribution of the publication "Why Not Islam" written by the church's pastor the Rev Alan Clifford.
The EDL has announced that it will be holding a demonstration in Norwich in October to express its solidarity with Clifford, provoking the usual outburst of Islamophobic bile from EDL supporters ("Sick ov satanic islam get out our country!", "what can be done to stop islam when the government, councils and police protect it", "what has our country come to the goverment must be gettin a pay off from these muslim extremist", "Are you People in the UK not going to fight this????? Your letting the muslims take over your Church!!! ARE YOU KIDDING ME!!!!!! WHO IS YOUR CITY COUNCIL????"). The EDL has also promoted Clifford's "Why Not Islam" diatribe on its Facebook page.
Rev Clifford's anti-Islam essay begins: "Too many churchmen as well as politicians are gripped by cowardice in the face the Muslim menace." It continues: "Tragically, our secularist Governments – which Islam aims to subjugate and replace in any case – are playing dangerous games by ignorantly distinguishing between militant and moderate Islam. The only difference between moderates and militants is between those who keep their mouths shut and those who don't!" Further: "The only sense in which the Pax Islama could mean 'peace' is when tribute-paying non-Muslims are silenced by conquest and reduced to a state of dhimminitude or 'second class' citizenship."
Clifford goes on to denounce "Islam's appeal to the baser instincts of human nature; the degradation of women involving female circumcision and forced marriages; honour killings; the killing of apostates, its bloody jihadism and a fallaciously-promised erotic paradise for suicide bombers". He warns: "Seemingly-benign Muslim communities will always be breeding grounds from which their more militant members can recruit jihadists." As for the Prophet Muhammad: "His legacy is ignorance, cruelty, fear and oppression. The continued influence of his teachings is a threat to all that Christ represents."
So you can understand why the EDL might feel it has a lot in common with Clifford.
This is not the first time that Clifford has received the endorsement of the far right. In 2008 the British National Party recommended a contribution by Clifford to a Telegraph online debate over the Archbishop of Canterbury's comments about sharia law, in which Clifford accused Rowan Williams of having "betrayed his ordination and consecration vows" by showing sympathy towards Islam. Williams was acting as "a 'PC' mouthpiece in a posture of appeasement towards Muslims", according to Clifford, in a situation where "the creeping Islamification of the UK is already making considerable progress". The BNP have also given their backing to Clifford over the Norwich ban and have similarly expressed their enthusiastic support for "Why Not Islam", which they have reproduced in full on their website.
The BNP was only returning a favour. In 2004 a BBC TV documentary featured film of BNP leader Nick Griffin telling a party meeting that Islam is a "wicked, vicious faith" and accusing Muslims of raping white girls as "part of their plan for conquering countries". After Griffin appeared on Newsnight defending his views, Clifford's response was to write a letter to the Norwich Evening News stating that he agreed with the veteran fascist: "Nick Griffin's recent Newsnight remarks regarding Islam are correct, when he said it was 'a monster in our midst'. The only antidote to this evil religion is the pure Gospel of Jesus Christ."
Clifford's disgraceful statement made the front page of Evening News and there were calls for him to be prosecuted for inciting racial hatred – as Griffin later was – but after a police investigation the CPS decided not to bring charges.
Clifford justified his views with the double talk we have come to expect from Islamophobes. He claimed to defend freedom of religion and said he had "no objections to Muslims worshipping and associating", before immediately adding "it's very difficult to tolerate people whose religious motivation in its pure form leads to your annihilation". And of course he declared himself to be a firm opponent of the racist views of the BNP. The fact that he shared their paranoid bigotry towards one particular minority non-white community supposedly had nothing to do with racism.
It will be interesting to see how Clifford responds to the EDL demonstration in his support. After all, they employ the same weasel words about opposing the BNP and being non-racist, so how can Clifford reasonably reject their offer of solidarity?
Update: The EDL's East Anglian Division have posted an announcement of the October protest in which they explain that its objectives go beyond a defence of Clifford's right to publish hate literature:
This demonstration is on behalf of all East Anglian people who have concerns about or object to our government allowing muslim extremists to live freely in this country despite the threat to the people it has been elected to represent and protect. The continued compliance with the demands of the muslim community and the unchallenged islamification of our country is unacceptable and we demand it is stopped.
Do we just say nothing and watch as more mosques and islamic teaching centers open..with imans that condone and encourage female circumcision. As supermarkets, take aways, pubs, restaurants and schools dish out halal food (blessed in the name of allah) to us without our knowlege. Do we stand by while muslim paedophiles groom our children and sexually exploit them.
Do we think it's okay that people come to this country who are not willing to live with us and by our laws demanding their own sharia law which discriminates against women? Do we think it's right that women shrouded in black walk our streets and are kept segregated from the rest of society? Do we think that it is okay for extremists living in the safety of this country disrepect our troops who are defending the very freedom they despise?
Do we think that freedom of speech is under threat? The Answer to that question is easy, YES!! Norwich City Council is the latest council to over use political correctness and deny Freedom of Speech to the Norwich Reformed church because of a leaflet About Islam.
Having expressed outrage at the shameful treatment of poor Alan Clifford, the announcement concludes:
If you think the above objections dont concern you i would suggest you take a trip to one of our once great northern cities or London or maybe Luton and see what has happened there, don't think it won't happen here because it is happening now. if you are concerned about these issues then join us on the 20th October 2012.... OUR COUNTRY. OUR VALUES. OUR LAWS. NO SURRENDER.... WAKE UP EAST ANGLIA. IT'S YOURS AND YOUR CHILDRENS FUTURE AT STAKE.