On 22 May 2013, two men murdered British Army soldier Lee Rigby near the Royal Artillery Barracks in Woolwich, southeast London, England. The two murderers told passersby that they had killed the soldier to avenge the killings of Muslims that they said the British military had committed. The English Defence League (EDL) is a far-right group that opposes the spread of what it calls Islamic extremism in the United Kingdom. Following the Woolwich murder, about half a dozen people showed up at an EDL-sponsored protest at a mosque in York, England. Members of the mosque invited the protesters inside for tea and plates of custard creams. Leanne Staven, one of the protestors, said, “We need a voice. I think white British who have any concerns feel we can’t speak freely.” She added, “Change has been coming for a long time, and in light of what happened to that soldier in Woolwich there have to be restrictions on people learning extremist behaviour and it has to stop.” Some Muslims at the York mosque believe that the possibility of genuine dialogue exists. Mohammed el-Gomati, a lecturer at the University of York, said, “There is the possibility of having dialogue. Even the EDL who were having a shouting match started talking, and we found out that we share and are prepared to agree that violent extremism is wrong. We have to start there. Who knows — perhaps the EDL will invite us to an event and the Muslim community will be generous in accepting that invitation.” Ismail Miah, president of York mosque, said, “Under the banner of Islam there are very different politics: democratic politics, the far right, left, central, all over. You can’t target a whole community for what one or two people have done. What they’ve done in London is for their own reasons but there’s no reasoning behind it from an Islamic point of view.” A boy at the mosque displayed this sign: “York Mosque welcomes anyone who condemns extremist violence.”
For Further Information: Ann Czernik, “York mosque counters EDL protest with tea, biscuits and football.” Guardian (UK). 27 May 2013 http://www.guardian.co.uk/uk/2013/may/27/york-mosque-protest-tea-biscuits
For Further Information: “2013 Woolwich attack.” Wikipedia. Accessed 28 May 2013.
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