After the horrific murder of a British soldier on the streets of Woolwich, London Wednesday, the far-right English Defence League called on its supporters to take to the streets, “to tell the religion of peace we don’t need them here.” And its supporters listened. An estimated 100 to 250 EDL supporters gathered at a pub and then on the street to sing nationalist songs and hurl bottles at police in Woolwich, and at least two men have been arrested in separate attacks on British mosques.
In Braintree, Essex, about 50 miles northeast of Woolrich, a man is in custody for attempted arson after reportedly walking into a mosque armed with a knife and an “incendiary device.” Fortunately, nobody was hurt. The secretary of the mosque told Sky News: “The police said it’s too early to try and link it to what happened in Woolrich, but those of us who were here feel that it was some sort of revenge attack. It was clear from the man’s behavior.” In Gillingham, Kent, about 35 miles east of Woolrich, a man was arrested on suspicion of “racially-aggravated criminal damage” to a mosque there.
Back in Woolrich, protesters clashing with police chanted “rule Britannia” and “no surrender to Al Qaeda,” and a statement on the EDL’s Facebook page asserted: “ ” Just as the soldier’s killers had hoped.