What is the English Defence League, who is leader Tim Ablitt and what are the protest movement’s beliefs?

The Sun 13 months ago

THE English Defence League has made headlines for the last eight years with its rowdy anti-Islam street protests.

Here’s everything we know about the group, its leadership and what it stands for…

Britain First and the English Defence League (EDL) protest in London in April 2017

Britain First and the English Defence League (EDL) protest in London in April 2017

What is the English Defence League?

The English Defence League (EDL) is a street protest movement co-founded by Tommy Robinson in 2009.

The origins of the group reportedly date back to a protest by Islamic extremists in Luton, during which they hurled abuse at soldiers from the Royal Anglian Regiment as they marched through the town after returning from Afghanistan.

After a spontaneous counter-demonstration led to arrests local football supporters decided to take action, according to the BBC.

The group’s formation was initially structured around a series of football hooligan firms, the report claimed.

Various EDL “divisions” sprung up across the UK, and the group would organise marches in towns and cities across the country to protest against “radical Islam”.

Tim Ablitt has been leading the EDL since Tommy Robinson quit in 2013

Tim Ablitt has been leading the EDL since Tommy Robinson quit in 2013

Who is the EDL’s leader Tim Ablitt?

Tommy Robinson stepped down as EDL leader in October 2013 after heading the group for some four years.

He was succeeded by Tim Ablitt, of Poole, Dorset, who had previously been the organiser of the organisation’s South-west England branch.

He was one of six supporters arrested in July 2010 over a suspected bomb plot against a Bournemouth mosque, but was released without charge, according to IBT.

Ablitt was also involved in an unsuccessful bid to merge the EDL with the short-lived British Freedom Party, the report claimed.

The EDL protests in Manchester in June 2017 in the wake of a bombing in the city

The EDL protests in Manchester in June 2017 in the wake of a bombing in the city

What are the EDL’s beliefs?

The EDL describes itself as a “human rights organisation” that is opposed to “religiously-inspired intolerance”.

A mission statement on the group’s website says it is opposed to “the denigration and oppression of women, the molestation of young children, the committing of so-called honour killings, homophobia, anti-Semitism, and continued support for those responsible for terrorist atrocities”.

The organisation’s other stated aims include “promoting democracy and the rule of law by opposing Sharia” and “ensuring the public get a balanced picture of Islam”.

But critics have accused the EDL of being Islamophobic and branded some of its members racist and violent.

And campaigners have accused the “street army” of trying to stir up tensions with its marches.

Hundreds of EDL protesters clash with Police at a rally in Manchester

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