Several days ago I posted a photo from Internet vigilante Charlie Flowers’ Facebook page that i contended showed he had an English Defence League connnection. Richard Bartholomew looked at the same photo and thought I had made an ‘imaginative leap.’
Flowers’ or one of his ‘Cheerleader’ associates has resolved the issue themselves by posting new photos to Facebook of Flowers meeting with EDL youth division leader Joel Titus, an activist with a history of violence who was recently arrested for assaulting a photojournalist, and Matthew Kaplan, who Bartholomew reports is the paid EDL publications coordinator responsible for leaflets and press releases.
In comments to Bartholomew’s earlier post, Flowers’ or one of his supporters seems to have been most animated by the accusation that Flowers may be affiliated with or have affinity for racists or white supremacists. This latest photo seems a calculated response meant to subvert that conclusion. An anti-Fascist publication describes the mixed-race Titus as the figure the EDL “parades to the media as proof of their non-racist agenda.” Kaplan is a Jewish American student from Seattle, which supposedly rebuts the EDL’s reputation for Nazi affinities. Kaplan has appeared at several EDL demonstrations waving the Israeli flag. However the presence of minorities and Jews is hardly a defense. Racism and religious persecution are as much about who you exclude as who you let in.
Flowers and his Internet vigilante friends the ‘Cheerleaders’ claim to be opposed to Islamic extremism, but they are actually against Islam and target Muslims indiscriminately, just as their fellow travelers in the EDL do, and there is no better evidence of that than the intimidation tactics they engaged in here at Talk Islam, publishing several front page contributors’ home addresses and sending mail to one blogger’s home. They have also repeatedly threatened me.
None of those targeted – Hussein Rashid, Aziz Poonawalla or myself – could be described as anything other than moderate or progressive Muslims who have wrtten against extremism and religious violence.