THE ENGLISH Defence League (EDL) has been rampaging again last weekend in Preston and Nuneaton. The anti-fascist magazine Searchlight has been warning of the dangers of this and is campaigning to get the police and Home Office to take seriously the threat posed by the EDL as a far-right, racist and neo-fascist organisation.

At the moment the police are refusing to recognise the EDL as such because it claims to be non-racist and opposed only to Islam. It seeks to recruit black people and Zionists in its crusade to stir up Islamophobia.

But the leaders of the organisation have a long record as hard-core Nazis and they are trying to use the broad spectrum of recruits as an acceptable front for their very sinister agenda.

And they are succeeding in recruiting a wide spectrum of people with a lot of genuine grievances who are content to focus all their anger at the effects of modern capitalism on the scapegoat of Islam.

The Tea Party organisation in the United States is operating in much the same way and is recruiting thousands. The recruits are not inherently evil; many of them are well-meaning people who feel aggrieved at all sorts of things but who are too lazy to think clearly. They are happy to let fundamentalist extreme right-wing Christians do their thinking for them and are directed to see Islam as the source of all evil.

This makes the EDL and the Tea Party movement all the more dangerous. Italian fascism and German Nazism would never have been more than tiny fringe groups if they had been honest, if they had gone about with labels saying “we are pure evil”. Their danger lies in their ability to fool thousands of otherwise decent people and they do it through flattery and tapping into people’s genuine grievances and concerns and using mindless emotion and religion to combat rational thinking.

But make no mistake; the people behind these organisations are acting on behalf of the most reactionary, regressive and oppressive sections of the ruling class and their role is to divide worker from worker and all workers from rational thinking. Above all they want to divert workers from uniting in a class struggle against the increasingly oppressive ruling class.

Searchlight editor Nick Lowles also accuses the extreme fundamentalist Muslim groups for being a mirror image of the EDL, saying that the two opposing groups need each other to fire up their own supporters. And it is true; fundamentalist Islam is as bad as right-wing racist fundamental Christianity and when young Muslims hold up placards saying “burn in hell” at the funerals of British troops killed in Afghanistan it does help the EDL recruiting drive.

But it is more complicated than that. The Muslims do have a genuine grievance. The history of the Middle East includes a litany of brutal imperialist interventions, invasions, massacres and oppressions from the obscenities of Balfour, the Nakba, through Sabra and Chatilla that continue now in the invasions of Iraq and Afghanistan, the invasions of Lebanon and of Gaza.

Anyone who reads the reports of journalist Robert Fisk or is active with Palestine Solidarity knows the horror stories and how much these atrocities cause mental pain to every Muslim, moderate or extreme.

Like slavery, these crimes of western imperialism must be acknowledged because every time the western media and culture ignore them it drives more young Muslims to express their anger by joining the fundamentalists.

It is a crime that the people of Britain and America are kept ignorant of the reasons why Muslims are justified in their anger.

If we are to break down the barriers between black, white and brown workers we must acknowledge that all have genuine grievances that must be addressed with honesty and rationalism.

Then we can unite under the slogan “an injury to one is an injury to all” and focus on our real enemy and the source of all the grievances — the global ruling class and its insatiable greed for wealth and power.