Why Were English Skinheads At The 9/11 Anti-Mosque Protest ?

Today’s New York Times tries to figure out why there was a group of English soccer hooligans at the protests against the so-called “Ground Zero Mosque” on September 11th:

Among the non-New Yorkers who traveled to Lower Manhattan on Saturday to protest the neighborhood’s decision to allow an Islamic community center to be built were seven men who came from England bearing flags with slogans and the cross of St. George — a symbol of their nation and of the Crusades.

Those flags are often seen at soccer stadiums, when ultranationalist fans of England’s soccer team gather to cheer (and to fight fans of other nations), but they have been cropping up regularly at anti-immigrant and anti-Muslim protests in English cities over the past year.

That is because the men are members of the English Defense League, formed last year to counter what the men see as the threat posed to their national identity by immigrants to England and British-born Muslims who are neither white nor Christian.

As the British anti-fascist group Hope Not Hate explained last month, the E.D.L. is led by a former member of the British National Party, whose leader has made common cause with the Ku Klux Klan, and has “mushroomed from a coalition of former football hooligans into an enormous street army with the propensity for large-scale disorder and city center confrontations with the police.”[


After spending months working undercover on an 11-minute documentary about the group, Matthew Taylor reported, “A Guardian investigation has identified a number of known right-wing extremists who are taking an interest in the movement — from convicted football hooligans to members of violent right-wing splinter groups.”


In a report on the group, the Israeli newspaper Haaretz asked, “What are Israeli flags and Jewish activists doing at demonstrations sponsored by the English Defence League?” The newspaper answered the question this way: “Call it a struggle against a common foe: Islam. Or a journey into the heart of darkness. Or perhaps further proof that Europe is starting to lose its mind again.”

These are the kinds of people that the Pamela Geller’s of the world are allying themselves with.

FILED UNDER: Policing, Religion, US Politics, , , , , , , , , ,
Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug Mataconis held a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010 and contributed a staggering 16,483 posts before his retirement in January 2020. He passed far too young in July 2021.


  1. Tano says:

    These are the kinds of people that the Pamela Geller’s of the world are.

  2. Tano,



  3. Steve Plunk says:

    That’s just lazy thinking Doug.  Anyone can show up at a protest without others at that same protest being allied with them.  You’re just smearing people unjustly with this.  With your logic in play opposing the mosque now makes people allies of the KKK?  Up your game.

  4. Both you and the article you cheerfully quote fail to reliably connect the dots.  Your assumptions provide a big-ass hole in your subsequent logic.  Can you spot how/where?

  5. Pamela Geller already associates with Dutch proto-facsist and anti-muslim bigot Geert Wilders. These guys are big fans of Wilders. That enough dot connecting for you ?

  6. Trumwill says:

    Do you support the right of gays to marry? If so, why do you side with the child molesters in the FLDS?
    Do you oppose the right of gays to marry? If so, why do you side with the KKK?
    Yes, there are a lot of despicable people that are opposing the building of the mosque. But they’re winning the debate of public opinion. It’s easy and lazy and over and over again make “the people who disagree with me are BAD PEOPLE” argument. It’s getting seriously tiresome, Doug. It convinces nobody who doesn’t already agree with you.

  7. HINT:  Most of the NYT article’s photos aren’t from New York at all, only the first one seems to be from the recent demonstration there.  In that one, while there are some short haircuts in the four men pictured, ony one appears to qualify as a “skinhead.”
    In fact, the NYT doesn’t seem to use the term “skinhead” at all; that innovation appears to originate with Mr. Mataconis.
    The gaps in logic, or assumptions (to be charitable) are that since some EDL look like soccer hooligans, anyone carrying a St. George’s Cross flag is a skinhead.
    Which would extend, logically enough, to the Boy Scouts in the Republic of Georgia, since their national flag includes a number of St. George’s Crosses.