Dickinson College Humanities Program in Norwich

Protest clashes and Immigration Issues

September 15th, 2009 · 5 Comments

I don’t know how many people have been keeping up with the London news, but I thought I’d share a bit of info because it seemed relevant to the class. Over the past week there has been an ever growing tenuous situation. Firstly, we narrowly missed a 24 strike from the RMT. But secondly, and more prevalently, on September 11th near a Mosque in Harrow there was a clash between the Unite Against Fascism (UAF) and the Stop Islamization of Europe (SIOE). The protest had been led by the SIOE and was meant to mark the 8th anniversary of the Twin Tower attacks. I would like to pause for a moment and ask how many Americans have ever shown a demonstration for the 7/7 attacks, let alone escalate to violence over it? The apathy of our nation comes in handy for once. 

Seven people were arrested on September 11th, and a week before, on September 5th, 90 people were arrested when a disturbance broke out in Birmingham. These clashes between anti-immigrants and Muslim/leftist groups have been going on as far back as May; however, they have had little in the way of collateral damage.

As mentioned above, America and UK handle protests and outbreaks very differently. While I wouldn’t go as far as to say it’s a hobby, England does have a tradition of riots and violent protests. They enjoy a good scuffle, and it seems to alleviatetension at least to some degree.  Our history with national conflict has been rather limited. The British on the other hand are amazingly efficient: they pack a protest with more police than protesters and basically encircle the people, an amazingly intimidating deterrent for your average protest. The majority of the 1.6 million Muslims in the UK are situated in England, and now with the rising conservative/anti-immigration tide approaching it will be interesting to see if small scale scuffles will be enough to satisfy the hunger of  protesters. This also brings into question the over-asked question of what is an englishman? When are you no longer an Immigrant. And more importantly does being a member of organizations like UAF automatically make you a target for anti-immigrant scorn? One thing that I did find interesting also was the idea of leftists and Muslims teaming up together, this idea leads me to believe it isn’t necessarily an immigration problem, but rather a non-immigrant one.  Guy Fox, IRA, SIOE: for a nation who preaches secularity, they sure love their religious fights.

Anyway, cheers

Tags: Andrew R