With the EDL marching in the city on Saturday, Bryan Toh argues that we should just ignore them and not provide them with fuel for future protests.
Despite the good intentions of Exeter Together and my disdain for the EDL’s anti-Islamic sentiment, I am unsure if holding a march against the EDL’s own is the most productive way to express opposition to the controversial group. Religion can polarise opinion, but in a multicultural, modern and tolerant society like the United Kingdom, it is rare to hear extremist views like the EDL’s on these issues.
To me, organising a march against them gives them the attention they crave. It draws the limelight onto them, and gives them a platform to shout out their message of hate, which would otherwise be nothing but a whisper. This not only risks putting more people in distress, but also increases the chances of someone hearing, and getting misled by the EDL’s message.
As with any two opposing protests, tensions will run high. Should any sort of violence erupt between the EDL and Exeter Together, it will again just be playing into the EDL’s hands and providing them with fodder for future protests. Additionally, a counter-demonstration is unlikely to deter a group as convinced of its message as the EDL. They will most likely proceed as planned, trumpeting their right to do so under the law.
Don’t give the EDL what it wants; instead, just ignore them. Some might call it meek, but I believe it is simply the most efficient way to deal with such groups. By showing via our everyday actions that Exeter is a community that celebrates diversity, and ignoring the noise made by the EDL, we send a strong message that their skewed beliefs have no place among us. Should they decide to push certain boundaries in seeking attention, I have faith that the local authorities will react appropriately.
Having been privileged enough to grow up in a culturally inclusive country like Singapore, and then study in another, I am all for religious equality and so give Exeter Together my full backing. I just feel that giving the EDL the cold shoulder would be an easier and more effective approach.
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