The Huffington Post, Daily Mail and the Independent all report on the former leader of the English Defence League, Stephen Yaxley-Lennon, who was seen last week in the Netherlands calling out to a rally organised by the Patriotic Europeans Against the Islamisation of the Occident (Pegida) to “stand together to fight Islamification”.
Pegida is a German anti-Islam political group that was formed in Dresden in October 2014. They held a number of protests this year in the UK. Its UK leader, Matthew Pope, is said to have called for Islam to be banned explaining, “as it is impossible for Muslims to re-adapt Islam to the 21st century, we only have one choice….. Make Islam illegal.”
In Newcastle, the German far right group were vastly outnumbered by counter demonstrators from anti-racism alliance Newcastle Unites. Paul Weston, leader of another anti-Muslim far right organisation, Liberty GB, spoke at the event and told Pegida supporters that Muslims would “take over” and “that is exactly what they will do if we quietly do nothing.” He went on to say, “We have to fight back. Although there are moderate Muslims in this area, Islam is not a religion of peace.”
In Edinburgh, many of Pegida’s supporters failed to turn up and were once again outnumbered five to one by anti-racism protestors.
In the Netherlands, Yaxley-Lennon is shown in film footage railing about “fake refugees who have no intention of integration and no intention of assimilation”. He is seen telling the crowd “There is a reason why the state fears me in England. It is because we can bring people together and we are going to enter into a new era in Europe where everyone is going to unite against the Islamisation of our countries.”
Mr Yaxley-Lennon’s associations with far right anti-Muslim groups and his support for a pan-European movement goes back some years. In 2012, the EDL under Yaxley-Lennon’s leadership collaborated with a host of Islamophobic movements to launch a “global counter-jihad initiative”. Yaxley-Lennon later invited prominent members of the “counter-jihad movement”, Pamela Geller and Robert Spencer, to the UK to address a rally in the weeks after the murder of Fusilier Lee Rigby. Geller and Spencer were both blocked from entering the UK when the Home Secretary imposed an exclusion order.
Despite stating in October 2013 that he left the English Defence League (EDL) because he was a changed man and because he wanted to “work with Muslims”, Yaxley-Lennon’s associations with a number of far-right anti-Islamic groups in the UK and abroad suggest his claims of having reformed his former views have something of a hollow ring to them.