You may well ask. After all, according to the 2011 census, the Muslim population of Exeter numbers a mere 1,855 – 1.6% of a total population of 117,773 – so the city is hardly under imminent threat of Islamification.
Indeed, if the EDL want to identify a threat to the Christian heritage of Devon they might be advised to look elsewhere, for it is a shocking fact that the population of Exeter includes the second highest proportion of Satanists in the UK. Admittedly, the Satanist community too are at present only a tiny minority, but surely that can’t deter someone from constructing a demographic fantasy in which fecund devil-worshippers are outbreeding us, resulting in a Satanist majority in Exeter by mid-century.
In the absence of a Muslim community of any size in Exeter, the EDL have been scraping around to find a rationale for next month’s protest in the city. They make an attempt to exploit the issue of FGM, but this is rather undermined by the fact that there has only been one confirmed case in Exeter, in 2012, and of course there is no evidence that it even involved Muslims.
However, the EDL have uncovered another serious danger to the people of Devon. An article on the EDL website, entitled “Why we are going to Exeter”, begins:
“Exeter, the home of Exeter University. The home of the European Muslim Research Centre, a centre devoted to the study of Islamophobia and combating the idea that ‘European Muslims, Islam and strict adherence to Islam poses a threat to the safety, cohesion and wellbeing of communities and countries in Europe’. Funded by a £50,000 donation from the Cordoba Foundation, £50,000 from IslamExpo and a £35,000 gift from Al-Jazeera Satellite Network.”
Unfortunately for the EDL, as a quick scan of the University of Exeter website would have revealed, the European Muslim Research Centre no longer functions. In fact it closed down two years ago.
So that’s why the EDL are going to Exeter. They are mobilising their forces from across the UK to demonstrate against the threat from Islam in a city where there are hardly any Muslims, against a local outbreak of FGM for which there is no evidence, and against an academic research centre that no longer exists.