Britain’s far-right anti-Islam grouping, the English Defence League is exploiting concerns about sex-grooming gangs to enhance its anti-Islam agenda, according to a university report.
King's College London has found that the EDL is using recent cases, such as that of 9 Asian men imprisoned last year for grooming girls in Rochdale to win support from among the British public.
"The EDL has successfully exploited concerns about the sex-grooming gangs in the north of England, turning the issue into one of Islam versus the west", said one of the report’s authors, Alexander Meleagrou-Hitchens of KCL's International Centre for the Study of Radicalisation.
Meleagrou-Hitchens added that activists across Europe recognize the EDL chief, Tommy Robinson, as a "rock star".
"They want him to help their own organisations to become like the EDL. There's a danger that the UK will export this kind of vicious, far-right activism to the rest of the continent", he said.
According to the report community tensions in Europe have been heightened by the EDL and its partners, and they further promoted ideas that helped inspire the Norwegian mass killer Anders Breivik.
One theme used by the EDL to try to boost its support is that of rape allegedly committed by Muslim men as evidence of the "Islamisation" of the west, the report noted.
"This 'rape jihad', as it has become known, is a significant concern for the EDL," says Melagrou-Hitchens. "Interest has risen since revelations in the British media about the existence of sex-grooming gangs made up of Muslim men of south-Asian origin."
The report also added that the far-right anti-Islam groups in Britain and Europe have been seeking to link religion with crime.