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Far-right groups rail against Islamists in English town


Since a Briton’s suicide bombing in Sweden in December 2010, British police tracing the attacker's history have found terror cells to be more deeply rooted than previously thought.

That’s put the spotlight on the terrorist’s home town of Luton, where Muslim extremist activity is sparking a counter-wave of ultra-nationalist sentiment.

Mosques, hijabs and Halal meat shops - a scene straight from the bazaars of the orient - but this is Luton, north of London, home to some 25 thousand Muslims of British and other origins.

One of them was Taimur Abdulwahab al-Abdal better known now as the Stockholm bomber.

Abdul Kadir Bashk knew him, and describes a volatile character rejected by the community at large.

“When he was here, he was challenged, his ideologies, his thinking were challenged, and when we realized he wasn’t changing, we exposed him to every member of this mosque, this community. He got upset, angry, and he walked out, and we never saw him again.”

The next they heard, al-Abdal had blown himself up in Sweden. And that’s just the latest claim to infamy for Luton, which is fast becoming known as a hotbed. Extremism breeds extremism, and in stepped the English Defense League, committed to protecting England from what they see as a wave of Islamism. Leader Tommy Robinson believes he’s walking where others fear to tread.

“We have got a legitimate argument. We’ve got grave concerns in our community and we need somebody to voice those concerns – the politicians aren’t doing it, they’re not doing it. They daren’t say it.”

The EDL call Luton their home, although others say their roots are in football hooliganism. They recently held their biggest ever march through the town, ahead of which Robinson says the police told him his life was in danger.

“You have been advised that it may be appropriate if you leave the area for the foreseeable future,” Tommy says.

The town’s MEP Richard Howitt says the vast majority of Lutonians live in harmony and are distressed by their home’s image.

“What we can do, is in peace and harmony to stand quietly and peacefully and show that the vast majority of this town and this country of all faiths do not believe, do not accept this organization, and we do not want them here.”

The Stockholm bomber’s family blames England for turning him from a normal boy into a fanatic.

Some point to unemployment and social deprivation as the reasons for the extremes found in Luton. But chairman of the Luton Islamic Centre Abdul Qadeer Baskh lays the blame squarely at the doors of the government.

“Before 9/11 we had never had these issues, so all this has developed since 9/11. The government’s foreign policy, that’s what’s sparked all this up, going into Iraq, an illegal war, killing women and children, going into Afghanistan, carpet-bombing indiscriminately…”

Meanwhile, wars thousands of miles away make their presence felt in Luton, where every so often, shopkeepers board up the town centre, and prepare for the hurricane of extremism to pass through.


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51° 52' 46.7472" N, 0° 25' 3.2088" W