"God bless the Muslims. They'll need it when they're burning in effing hell."

The English Defence League marches on parliament.

If you were still in any doubt about the character of the English Defence League, today's march on the Houses of Parliament should make things clear.

The group, which claims to be non-racist and pro-freedom of speech, but whose followers have been filmed shouting racist slogans and chanting support for the far-right British National Party, has mounted a series of anti-Muslim demonstrations around Britain since March last year. In January, the EDL rioted in Stoke-on-Trent, where Asian residents and their white neighbours (described as "race traitors", according to Unite Against Fascism) were attacked.

Today's rally was in support of the far-right Dutch politician Geert Wilders. Having been banned from entering the UK on a previous occasion, he was at the House of Lords today (at the invitation of the UK Independence Party leader, Lord Pearson) to screen his anti-Islam film Fitna.

This afternoon, several hundred EDL supporters assembled outside Tate Britain, down river from parliament. When the march at first failed to get going, police allowed them to wander off to the pub for an hour or so. (By comparison, a smaller crowd of anti-racist protesters, organised by Unite Against Fascism, had been kept tightly corralled by police outside parliament's St Stephen's Gate since morning.)

Before marching towards parliament, the crowd was addressed by Guramit Singh -- virtually the only non-white EDL supporter present -- who claimed to be one of the "12 leaders" of the EDL. He called "on all religions" to "eradicate militant Islam".

Although Singh and a subsequent speaker at the rally occasionally made a distinction between "moderate" Muslims and "extremists", the crowd's biggest cheer was reserved for Singh's closing words:

"God bless the Christians, Jews, Sikhs, even God bless the Muslims -- they'll need it when they're burning in fucking hell."

Earlier, the Welsh Secretary and veteran anti-racist campaigner Peter Hain said: "The English Defence league, together with their allies the BNP, represent a racist and fascist threat -- not just to Muslims but to [all] black, Asian and Jewish citizens, too."

This was illustrated by the EDL supporters (including a couple dressed in fetching his'n'hers -- black for him, pink for her -- sweatshirts that bore the legend "EDL -- Derby division") I witnessed threatening a frightened mixed-race group of teenagers as they crossed paths on a sidestreet near Pimlico Station.

Daniel Trilling is the Editor of New Humanist magazine. He was formerly an Assistant Editor at the New Statesman.

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It's Gary Lineker 1, the Sun 0

The football hero has found himself at the heart of a Twitter storm over the refugee children debate.

The Mole wonders what sort of topsy-turvy universe we now live in where Gary Lineker is suddenly being called a “political activist” by a Conservative MP? Our favourite big-eared football pundit has found himself in a war of words with the Sun newspaper after wading into the controversy over the age of the refugee children granted entry into Britain from Calais.

Pictures published earlier this week in the right-wing press prompted speculation over the migrants' “true age”, and a Tory MP even went as far as suggesting that these children should have their age verified by dental X-rays. All of which leaves your poor Mole with a deeply furrowed brow. But luckily the British Dental Association was on hand to condemn the idea as unethical, inaccurate and inappropriate. Phew. Thank God for dentists.

Back to old Big Ears, sorry, Saint Gary, who on Wednesday tweeted his outrage over the Murdoch-owned newspaper’s scaremongering coverage of the story. He smacked down the ex-English Defence League leader, Tommy Robinson, in a single tweet, calling him a “racist idiot”, and went on to defend his right to express his opinions freely on his feed.

The Sun hit back in traditional form, calling for Lineker to be ousted from his job as host of the BBC’s Match of the Day. The headline they chose? “Out on his ears”, of course, referring to the sporting hero’s most notable assets. In the article, the tabloid lays into Lineker, branding him a “leftie luvvie” and “jug-eared”. The article attacked him for describing those querying the age of the young migrants as “hideously racist” and suggested he had breached BBC guidelines on impartiality.

All of which has prompted calls for a boycott of the Sun and an outpouring of support for Lineker on Twitter. His fellow football hero Stan Collymore waded in, tweeting that he was on “Team Lineker”. Leading the charge against the Murdoch-owned title was the close ally of Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn and former Channel 4 News economics editor, Paul Mason, who tweeted:

Lineker, who is not accustomed to finding himself at the centre of such highly politicised arguments on social media, responded with typical good humour, saying he had received a bit of a “spanking”.

All of which leaves the Mole with renewed respect for Lineker and an uncharacteristic desire to watch this weekend’s Match of the Day to see if any trace of his new activist persona might surface.


I'm a mole, innit.