The Football Lads Alliance (FLA) plans to put “thirty to forty thousand” onto the streets of central London this Saturday.
Its banner of “united against extremism” attracts people with all sorts of ideas—but it represents a serious threat.
The FLA has support from prominent fascists and racists, and gives Islamophobes a platform to organise around. That’s why Stand Up To Racism (SUTR) has called an event outside Downing Street during the march.
The FLA was forced to issue a press release after a major charity pulled out of working with the group last week. Walking with the Wounded, which works with British Army veterans, withdrew its support after SUTR raised concerns.
In the press release the FLA claimed that the movement is “inclusive of people of all faiths and colours” and is “not racist in any shape or form”.
Gerry Farr, an administrator on the FLA’s internal Facebook group, was jubilant that the reactionary and sectarian Mohan Singh had agreed to speak this Saturday. “More great news … just landed the very dignified Mohan Singh,” he wrote.
Singh is part of the Sikh Awareness Society, which pushes the racist stereotype that Muslims are responsible for raping Sikh children. He has joined platforms with Nazi Tommy Robinson. Singh has also previously joined fascist EDL demonstrations.
In June Singh was part of a “Unite Against Hate” event with Robinson and Anne Marie Waters, the founder of Sharia Watch. After losing the Ukip leadership election last week, Waters tweeted, “Jihad 1, Truth 0”.
Waters is a backer of the Mothers Against Radical Islam and Sharia (Marias) group, which is run by Nazi Toni Bugle. Bugle is urging people to join the march this Saturday.
Before a Marias protest in 2015, Bugle released a message to supporters. “I don’t care what you are, I don’t care if you’re Britain First, I don’t care if you’re English Defence League, I don’t even care if you’re National Front,” she wrote.
Not everyone in the FLA group is a Bugle or Singh. But that has not stopped the racist and Islamophobic posts on the page, which show some of the people it attracts.
Andy Cowham wrote in the FLA group that “Islam is the world’s biggest outrage”.
“Labour like the Germans are frightened of the Jews because of how clever they are, unlike the Palestinians who would rather sacrifice their own children than look for peace,” he went on.
The charity pulling out rattled the FLA—and is causing it difficulties.
FLA founder John Meighan posted in the internal group that “a few people have had issues getting into grounds with FLA T-Shirts on now”.
It also caused tensions within the group. Alongside official calls to be more careful while posting, the more racist elements have been emboldened.
Alan Garrison posted, “This is a fundamental moment in time for the FLA, either it stands firm in fighting Islamic terror or it caves in to these left wing bully boys.”
The FLA is still forming as a movement, and the direction it goes in will could become clearer after the march on Saturday.
What anti-racists do now will impact on which way it goes.
It’s time to sound the alarm, go on the streets and put forward an anti-racist message.