Last week English Defence League supporter Davey Russell was raided by police over a pirate radio station he runs. This week he sits down with reporter Alex Claridge and opens up about his views, which most will find unpalatable and uncomfortable reading
The man in the video is angry:
“I am being severely looked at. It’s not good people. Something has got to be done. Do you understand? Something has got to be done.
The man in the video is Davey Russell, the 44-year-old Herne Bay shock jock and supporter of the English Defence League (EDL). He was an because his home in a residential street had just been raided by police anti cornmunicutions watchdog Ofcom. They seized much of his computer and broadcasting equipment, including a transmitter, after he was accused of running a pirate radio station on the FM frequency without a licence. Few people in east Kent could have known that there was a high-profile EDL face in their midst, much less that he operated a radio station. I sat down with Russell less than a week after his arrest on December 9. He believes the raid was politically motivated.
“They were acting on a tip-off,” Russell says. “Someone has listened in and thought ‘let’s take him down’. If they didn’t like what they were hearing, then don’t listen”
And why shouldn’t they like what they were hearing? This brings us to the nub of who Daviy Kull Is and what he stands for. He is an increasingly prominent and outspoken flgure in the EDL, who has made speeches at demonstrations across the last year. His primary target is what he sees the rising power of Islam within the UK and what he regards as the growing Islamification of this country. He posts furious tirades aimed at Islam on his Facebook page. Russell is fearful of it:
“The Koran is barbaric in everything it says and everything it says should be done. This is the country of the Suffragette movement and yet we have women walking around in burqas. I’ve heard imams say it is all right to hit women.
He believes that a combination of fear of being branded rac1st and political correctness has cowed the authorities into sitting on their hands. What of Russell himself? Does he come across as a knuckle-scraping gorilla with a vocabulary as limited as a four-yearolds? No, he has read large chunks of the Koran and quotes sections of it. Know thine enemy, I suppose you could say. Is he racist? He adamantly insists he is not.
I get told I’m a racist, fascist, or a bigot. I’m not. Not at all. I am, however, a patriot. This is the English Defence League. Defence. Someone has got to stand up to what is going on.
So what is going on? Russell has concerns about how immigratiom is changing the country. He has concerns that areas of Britain are no longer really British and he has concerns about UK tax revenues going into the European Union. He believes the billions of pounds spent on foreign aid by the UK government should be spent on people in Britain. These concerns are not unique to the EDL. You hear peopie from Ukip or the Conservative Party reciting them. They are fairly ordinary positions of people on the centre right of UK politics. But that is where the similarity might end. Russell posts clips of isiamicTV on his Facebook page with an angry commentary over the top. He also advocates the forced deportation of people he regards as undesirable.
“We’ve got to get rid of the freeloaders. There are people here receiving benefits and sending it to other countries. They contribute nothing”
Is this confined to just Muslims?
“Well, it’s not black Christians or Hindus bombing people. But, we need to leave the EU first and take control of our borders.”
What makes Russell a target for Ofcom and police activity and attract the attention of left-wing activity? He believes it is the letters EDL. We have all seen them on television marching down streets carrying placards and waving Union Flags. But, I ask him, what actually is it?
”It was started by Tommy Robinson from Luton, who looked around him and saw what was going on. It’s a street movement. It doesn’t have a paid-for membership base. It’s a loose collection of people. Since Tommy left, it’s now run by a committee. We have black and Asian supporters even Muslim supporters. It’s not a racist movement. But the single bit worry is radical Islam. You can have moderate Muslims, but there’s no moderate Islam. I have watched videos of people being beheaded to rein force in my mind what would happen if radical Islam took hold here. You can have your hand chopped off for stealing.”
He blames the media for the vay the EDL is portrayed.
“They might say that six people at an EDL demonstration were arrested, but they won’t report that four of those were left-wing activists trying to stop us from making our voices heard. You might get David Cameron or Ed Milihand talking about immigration and it’s not racist. But as soon as someonv from the EDL talks about it, it’s racist. They keep bringing race into it. There are other issues. When they talk about the Rotherham grooming gangs, they use the word ‘Asian’ even though we know those involved were Muslim. But they don’t want to use the word Muslim In case It upsets them. What a slur on the rest of the Asian people.”
Russell, who works as a builder, hails from New Addington near Croydon, moving to Kent five years ago. He says it was around then and following various incidents, including the mugging of his eight-year-old son, that his political outlook began to take shape. Russell is a on mission to sanitise the EDL. He insists the football hooligan element, which turned up simply for the fight, has been expunged. But the fact is that the EDL brand is already tainted. There will be many who will recoil at anything it does or says, who will not want any part of it even if they happen to agree. And there will be those who will do what they can to destroy it, to deny it a voice. It is clear to me by now that Russell feels part of a growing anti-politics movement in the UK, which believes the cosy Westminster-based system is letting down ordinary people. He agrees that Nigel Farage and Ukip, who make much of the fact they are not part of the ruling elite, could go some way to solving Britain’s perceived ills. He even says Russell Brand, who crossed swords with Farage on Question Time in Canterbury last Thursday night, has decent points to make.
“Brand is right about a few things – especially the fact that so many problems stem directly from the bankers.”
Russell says. He has ideas about restoring power to hands of the people — much like Brand, who sees it in small democratic units of people. Russell asks why people shouldn’t be able to vote on policies or iues through their television remote controls.
“Democracy works, it’s Just that power is in the hands of the wrong people,” he says. “The House of Commons used to be full of common people. Where are the common people now? They’re not there. It’s Eton boys who are not so common.”
Is Russell a revolutionary then, working to bring down the system? He denies that he is.
THESE FANATICAL THUGS DON’T REPRESENT OUR PEACEFUL RELIGION
Raschid Sohawan, who runs the Canterbury Muslim Cultural Centre in Giles Lane, says the radical element of Islam is totally unrepresentative of the religion as a whole. He has branded those who carried out beheading in the Islamic State as “thugs” and states that real Islam is a peaceful religion. Mr Sohawari says that by allowing them publicity and voice distorts the true message of Islam.
“Five men with their faces covered holding guns and threatening violence on an internet video do not represent five billion Muslims,’ Mr Sohawan said. “The problem Is that their negative and misleading interpretation of the religion is being focused on and I will not tolerate it or extreme views at the mosque. We had three preachers from London who wanted to come to our mosque, but when we quizzed them and found out what their radical message was, both I and the imam said ‘No thanks’. We are a peaceful mosque and focus on the positive aspects of Islam, which is about prayer and being good citizens and neighbours.”
Mr Sohawan condemned those who carried out murders In the name of the Islamic State earlier in the year. He said:
“We were shocked and appalled by the killing of people who were In Syria to help the child victims of the conflict. As a community, we prayed they would show him mercy and he would be released. But these people are just thugs. The fact that it happened during the Muslim festival of Eld al-Adha, which is a time of forgiveness, shows these people are not true Muslims.”
Mr Sohawan has even barred fanatical Muslims from preaching at the cultural centre. The Rev Dr Stephen Laird, the dean of chaplains at Rutherford College, has also praised the role Muslims play in society. He said:
“Muslim students make a notable contribution to the atmosphere of cultural and religious diversity on the campus, going out of their way to organise events for an Islam awareness week every February at which people of all faiths and none are made welcome. Working with Raschi d and these young people is one of the most enjoyable aspects of my role at the university.”
Herne Bay Gazette, December 18th 2014