Who says twitter can't be a source of good!! The tweets selected are hilarious btw... -- J.
How Twitter users turned the tables on the English Defence League
When the far-right group's co-founder tried creating a #creepingsharia hashtag, it sparked some witty and funny results
Tommy Robinson took a few seconds on Sunday evening to make an observation about Twitter's homepage. "Welcome to twitter homepage has a picture of a mosque," he wrote. "What a joke #creepingsharia." Of course, Robinson isn't just any old tweeter, but the co-founder of the English Defence League, a far-right protest group. Tweet posted, Robinson no doubt wandered off to do other Sunday evening things; maybe plan a rally or two.
Now, Twitter can be a cruel place. As in any online community, people can be vicious, rude and generally horrible, sometimes just for the hell of it. Yet on some days, it has the ability to give me a warm fuzzy glow and a fill me with a (gentle and unshowy) pride to be British. The Monday morning response to Robinson's hashtag was one of those moments.
In less than 24 hours, #creepingsharia was trending, but what could have become a feed for EDL members and sympathisers to display their hard-hitting "evidence" of the rampant Islamisation of Britain, instead attracted the nimble fingers of sensible and funny tweeters, wittily but firmly telling Robinson and others of his ilk where to shove their ill-informed views.
From the mind of @microcuts_22: "I skipped breakfast this morning. Clearly fasting subconsciously. #CreepingSharia" and from @knownasbowman: "Muslamic bloke walked past on tiptoes #creepingsharia." From @LorrieHearts came: "Got rained on the other day, so pulled my scarf up over my head before realising that I'd become a victim of #creepingsharia." Each one a gentle squeeze of the hand, a tiny bit of silliness to ward off the insanity, and a quiet rebuke to the dangerous rhetoric being spouted by organisations like the EDL.
It's been a tough couple of weeks for the EDL. Last month's attempt to unify Europe's anti-Islamic groups – a pan-European coalition of idiots, if you will – in a "summit" in Denmark's second city, Aarhus, was a bit of a washout, with media and spectators easily outnumbering the supporters. But while it's easy to laugh at EDL's failures and jokes on Twitter, everyone knows laughter is only the best medicine when the illness isn't terminal.
Anders Behring Breivik is on trial for the murder of 77 people in Norway and his links to our very own far-right group are clear from his "manifesto": "I … have spoken with tens of EDL members and leaders," he wrote. "In fact, I was one of the individuals who supplied them with processed ideological material (including rhetorical strategies) in the very beginning." And a recently published report by anti-racism group Hope Not Hate found that the "counter-jihad movement" – a network of foundations, bloggers, political activists and street gangs – was flourishing in Europe and abroad.
So while the laughter is a good starting point – as pointed out by Flavia Dzodan in her article on the hidden networks of hate in the EU – more needs to be done and said. We need more than jokes to break down the associations being forged across nations by those who feel united in their disenfranchisement. Below is a selection of #creepingsharia tweets.http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2012/apr/16/twitter-users-turned-on-english-defence-league?mobile-redirect=false