After having demonstrated in Preston and High Wycombe to raise awareness of the increasing “threats from Islamification across Britain”, the English Defence League (EDL) came to Coventry in May 2016 to highlight how this “once-proud cathedral city is falling below the national radar while it’s being gutted by its transformation into a Muslim ghetto”. EDL members define themselves as English patriots and as a non-violent movement. Along the incrimination of Muslim grooming gangs in Coventry, they also blame and castigate the Muslim community’s wall of silence. Politique.com was the only French media to attend the demonstration and to interview Ian Crossland, national leader of this grassroots movement.
Politique.com: Since your former leader Tommy Robinson left in October 2013, could you present us the 2016 English Defence League in 3 keywords and why are you demonstrating here?
Ian Crossland: EDL Defence League has progressed, has grown I am now the national leader for the organization. We are here because of the issue of radical hate preachers, radicalization of young Muslims and recruiting for jihads and issues and also on the issues of children exploitation, gang grooming in Coventry.
Politique.com: What’s your opinion regarding the Brexit issue?
Ian Crossland: I personally, the organization as a whole wish to leave Europe, wish to vote OUT in the Brexit issue.
Politique.com: Do you think you will succeed in converting your grassroots movement into a political party as the last two attempts, with the British Freedom Party and UKIP have not been successful?
Ian Crossland: UKIP has nothing to do with the English Defence League. Many of the members support it but it is nothing to do with those. I support any group, any political group that stands up for this country.
Politique.com: Tommy Robinson is now involved in the development of Pediga UK, a British chapter of the German based organization. Do you consider Pediga as a friendly organization?
Ian Crossland: Yes, we’ve never had problem with Pediga. We fight for very similar issues. But up today I don’t support Pediga as a movement.
Politique.com: Trevor Kelway, a spokesman for the EDL, has denied that the group is racist. He said: We would march alongside muslims and Jews who are against militant Islam. Considering this opening statement, what do you think about the election of Sadiq Khan, the new Mayor of London? Does it fit with your model?
Ian Crossland: I personally have no problem with Sadiq Khan because he was democratically elected. So long as he supports the British society in London, if even he stands up for that, then I have no problem with Sadiq Khan being elected.
Politique.com: One last question, do you know Marine Le Pen in France? What s your opinion about her?
Ian Crossland: I support her stance as she stands up for the French people, the French nationals and these issues. I fully support all I know about her, but I don’t know everything about the group.