“Every single mosque that is built in this country will affect every single one of us, because where there is a mosque there are Muslims and where there are Muslims there is radicalisation” – Jayda Fransen, Deputy Leader of Britain First
Just who are Britain First and why are they causing controversy?
Britain First is a far right political party. Their website describes them as a loyalist movement, if you are “loyal to Queen and Country then you are welcome to join” their organisation. Despite being repeatedly described by opponents and the media as racists, the group strongly deny that race has anything to do with their policies. The group are most famous for their strong opposition to Islam and Islamic extremism. You could say they are Donald Trump’s words in action.
In short, the group want to defend British values, they are calling for a stop to immigration and strongly oppose global Islamic jihad. Sounds reasonable-ish? Well it’s been getting them into hot water.
The group has ruffled a lot of feathers throughout the UK. Anti-Islamophobia group Tell Mama called the Christian patrols “inflammatory actions.”
Despite the group maintaining they are not racist, the statements, like the one at the top of this article, could lead you to believe differently. Saying “where there are Muslims there is radicalisation” is like saying “where there are Christians there is Britain First” and we know that Christian leaders of Bury Park have publicly opposed Britain First.
The political party’s activism and propaganda are the biggest sticking points for those in opposition to Britain First. With stunts like pouring beer outside a mosque to aggravate attendees, handing out leaflets spreading anti-Islamic sentiment and claiming that they would ban Islam in the UK- it’s no wonder they are pissing people off.
The official organisation and policies of the organisation are not racist, because it wouldn’t be allowed to exist as a registered political party. However, if party publications and individual members say and do hateful things – like punishing whole places of worship and communities for things that other individuals have done – that’s where the unacceptable racism comes in.
Britain First are pretty popular on Facebook with 1,300,000 likes (there have been claims the group might have bought a few of them). What’s the biggie? Well, comparatively they are light years ahead of the UK’s main political parties in regards to social media use. The Conservatives have just over 500,000 and the Labour party has just over 400,000. Could it be that some of these followers just enjoy Britain First’s posts for their entertainment value?
The party’s leader Paul Golding, ex spin doctor of the far right British National Party has commented; “the future is social media…Obama’s pretty much the best on the planet I would say Britain First is the second best.”
Why do people come out to support Britain First marches? One participant told a BBC three documentary – called ‘We Want Our Country Back’ – he was there because “we’re getting a rough deal and the Muslims are taking over, if we’re not careful we’ll wake up with a Muslim government.” That’s just one marcher – and there could be many other reasons.
There’s not been a serious look into the appeal of Britain First – and why people are choosing to support them. The media is generally disparaging, some call them Nazis. The assumption is that they’re disenfranchised, “angry” and “susceptible” – that’s coming from the BBC 3 Documentary. Is that a fair assessment?
Britain First are protesting again this Saturday, this time in Dewsbury which according to their Facebook group is “a well known nest of Islamism, to protest against the scourge of hate preachers, extremism, terrorism, halal slaughter, FGM, child brides, radicalisation, “Trojan Horse” infiltration of our schools, grooming gangs, and sharia courts.”
The questions we’re asking at Scenes: “Nest”? Why that choice of word? Also, aren’t there just as many Muslims in Britain, and Dewsbury, who are just as concerned about extremism, grooming gangs and hate preachers as Britain First? If these are the problems Britain First wants to tackle, is parading crosses in the street the best way to do it? Why not join up with everyone who wants to see these things stopped, and stop making it about one religion against another?
Co-author Elizabeth Jackson