The English Defence League (EDL) suffered a humiliation in Aarhus, Denmark, where it arrived to set the stage for the rather grand sounding pan-European anti-Islamic Movement. Problem for the EDL'ers is that they couldn't attract the numbers. The turnout was so poor in fact, anti-fascist demonstrators outnumbered EDL supporters twenty-to-one.
Estimates suggested as few as 160 defence league members from several countries gathered at the inaugural far-right summit in Aarhus for the European counter-jihad meeting, devised to "send a clear message to the leaders of Europe" that Islamism would not be tolerated.
EDL leader Tommy Robinson admitted only 15 supporters from England made the trip, despite earlier speculation that hundreds might attend. By comparison, an anti-fascist demonstration in the same city, to protest against the arrival of the EDL, attracted up to 4,000 people.
When the EDL tried something similar in Amsterdam in 2010 the turnout was also dismal. They were outnumbered by vocal anti-racist supporters and Ajax fans who wanted them to take a hike.
The anti-fascist showing in Aarhus was impressive. Projekt Antifa, the anti-fascist coalition, organized transportation to the demo in Denmark.
Anti-fascist demonstrators in Aarhus
The low EDL turnout isn't just restricted to Aarhus. There has been a falling off of support on home turf also. Fewer would-be crusaders prepared to hit the bricks. In fact the numbers have fallen off to the degree that British police have been advised by the think tank, Demos, to downgrade estimates of EDL marches and demonstrations. According to Demos the EDL inflates estimates of attendees.
The EDL and similar groups offer no real solutions. The identity politics of these groups is divisive - a dead-ender. It heightens suspicion and alienation at a time when the Eurozone - given economic challenges - badly needs people to pull together. Who wants a divided society with crypto-fascists and others with narrow nationalistic agendas driving Muslim communities further into a defensive posture. It's a recipe for disaster... one unfortunately pushed by misguided people who use their websites to spread alarm and fuel suspicion about European Muslims.