March for Free Expression

The next phase

Sunday, February 19, 2006

No fascists please, we're British

This is a response to some of the comments.

We are actively seeking endorsements from almost all kinds of people... but not from fascists. This will be a march in favour of free expression, not a march against Muslims.

It would be disingenuous, even dishonest, to pretend that the Danish Cartoon Affair has nothing to do with this movement - on the contrary it absolutely was the event that galvanised us into action. But we were also concerned by the closure of a play in Birmingham following demonstrations by Sikhs, and by demonstrations by fundamentalist Christians against a couple of programmes scheduled by the BBC.

As students of the various websites around the world that are used by apostate or moderate Muslims - anonymously, in fear of their lives - to support each other can testify, the most immediate victims of absolutist, supremacist Islam are Muslims themselves.

Since we are in favour of free speech, and because the reason why newspapers and magazines across Europe (though not, shamefully, in the UK) have republished the infamous cartoons was principally "We are Spartacus" - we stand together - we will be happy to see reproductions of the cartoons in question at the rally.

But we will not be happy to see expressions of intolerance. Islamofascists are just that: fascists. And fascists will not be welcome.

33 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Voltaire, I'm one of those who've earlier expressed his concerns about the protest being hijacked by people we may call fascists, islamophobes, racists or whatever.

Now this starts sounding good! You've clearly expressed they're not welcome. Well, myself, I do think they also have the freedom of expression and can speak out elsewhere... but too see a march where perhaps the majority of participants would only misuse the extremely valuable topic of the freedom of speech and not bowing to pressure by any fundamentalists for their own goals one of which freedom and tolerance are not.

Good luck - hope you'll get lots of sane people to join you!

10:36 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Very good idea!!!
I will invite all my friend to come along to that protest.
I hope you can get as many freedom loving people on Trafalgar Square as possible!!!
It is however vital , that this protest will not be hijacked by the BNP or other Fascist groups.
So people can see that this is not a protest against muslims , but a protest against islamic aggression and opression worldwide!!!

11:07 pm  
Blogger Charles Martel said...

but i'm not racist or xenophobic.

i just disagree entirely with radical islam, wahabbism and sharia law - in fact, i just disagree with islam entirely, as i'm a rampant atheist.

am i not allowed on the march with my mohammed t-shirt and banner so?

11:39 pm  
Blogger Voltaire said...

You'd be very welcome, Charles. Look forward to seeing you.

6:41 am  
Blogger D-Notice said...

Is Trafalgar Square within the "Designated Area" from which protests are banned without prior approval of the Met Police?

7:57 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

hope this time you have enough people and you are allowed to rally, not like 11th february

supports from germany for free speech and againgst radical arabs

12:16 am  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

When is this planned for???

8:54 am  
Anonymous Rachel said...

I totally agree with the importance of free speech, and that the response to the Danish cartoon was over the top, but praps it's not the best example to give, seeing as the Danish newspaper was fairly right-wing anyway, and admitted that it would never publish a similar image of Jesus as it would offend the predominantly Christian readership...

12:29 pm  
Blogger Voltaire said...

Rachel, we are in favour of free speech even for people with whom we personally disagree, so the political stance of the Danish newspaper is immaterial.

The suggestion that they did not publish cartoons critical of Christianity is a red herring. The cartoons in question were sent in on spec to the paper, and newspapers very rarely, if ever, publish uncommissioned material. Our society is full of things that offend Christians, but nobody responsible for making or showing, say, "Piss Christ" is living in safe houses, in fear of their lives.

We hope to advocate a society in which people are free to express their opinions, satirically or otherwise, to agree, argue, disagree and enjoy freedom of intellect and conscience without having death threats made against them.

This is why we call on our elected representatives to defend this position. A lot of people struggled and gave their lives to give us the freedoms we enjoy. We are stewards for those freedoms and we have the responsibility of passing them on undamaged so that future generations do not find themselves having to repeat the struggles of the past.

12:53 pm  
Blogger Laban said...

I complained about Jerry Springer - and still do. However, I haven't passed a sentence of death on Stewart Lee, nor will I encourage others to kill him.

"Vengeance is mine, saith the Lord - I will repay".

I find your lumping in of the peaceful Christian protesters with the inciters to murder we saw the other week, or the violent acts seen at Birmingham Rep, offensive.

I realise you're trying to get the secular Left out from their own nether regions and onto the streets, and a quick poke at Christians serves to reassure them that they're not like those awful BNP people, but it's extremely unfair. The left used to care about fairness - once.

9:07 pm  
Blogger Voltaire said...

laban, we lump them together only insofar as they have all tried to restrict freedom of speech. The Christian demonstrators were indeed peaceful and have issued no death threats. We still think they were wrong to try to prevent the broadcast. However, this campaign is equally about their right to protest and express their opinions. We think they were wrong; we do not think they should have been banned from protesting. Nor do we think the BBC should have given in to their protests.

As we have made clear, this campaign is about a very narrow issue: freedom of expression. It is not an anti-Islamic campaign but it does say that the greatest threat that freedom of expression faces right now comes from violent, supremacist Islamists, because they are violent and fear is leading to self-censorship.

We are not afraid, we will not self-censor, and we will go out on the streets to assert this on March 25th. I hope you will join us.

9:40 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think you are afraid - afraid to say the truth - the problem is with "extreem" islam when we all know the problem is with Islam itself - and your use of the term Islamofascists - the inclusion of the "peaceful" christian demonstrators amongst the "violent" islamics smacks of fear - fear to say the truth - you dont want the "good" majority of muslim to dislike you - thats fear - if you want to keep our freedom you will have to have the courage to be honest and this is not Honesty

3:54 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I notice that you "will be happy to see reproductions of the cartoons in question at the rally."
I want to support the freedom of expression and thought about having one of the cartoons printed on a t-shirt. (To exercise and support my right to do so, I don't actually want to offend muslims.)
However I fear that I'd almost certianly be attacked in the few hundred yards from my house to the tube station.
Are we sure that displaying the cartoons on the march is a safe thing to do?

4:03 pm  
Blogger Voltaire said...

This is a very specific campaign: the support of freedom of expression. It is not an anti-Muslim campaign and it is not going to be turned into one.

We have chosen this ground on which to fight because we feel our case is unanswerable, clear, simple and stark: nobody should be killed, threatened or imprisoned for expressing their opinion, even if they are tactless and even if they give offence.

We want to turn back the tide of self-censorship and appeasement of violence.

We also want to erect as big a tent as we can so that people who otherwise disagree with each other can come together to campaign for an environment in which we can continue to disagree without violence and censorship.

That's it. We are not going to please everyone, but that's our stance.

4:05 pm  
Blogger Voltaire said...

We are discussing the public safety issues with the Metropolitan Police and will post about them as soon as we have news.

4:06 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

voltaire if you are an example of the best the west has got to stand up to the Islamic threat then god help us - dont you have the courage to answer my post that said you were fearful - too close to the truth ?

4:42 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This is most excellent, I'm very pleased to see this happening. I will be telling everyone I know. Our world is currently being held ransom by those people that claim "The World is for Allah" - The world is for us, the people.

"i just disagree entirely with radical islam, wahabbism and sharia law - in fact, i just disagree with islam entirely, as i'm a rampant atheist." - Well said Charles.

I would like to make some sort of banner, perhaps a coin that says "Islamofacism" and "Islamophobia" on alternate sides, would this be considered bad form?

I suspect that there will be a counter rally, if we stand up there will be people that will oppose us. I'm not entirely sure that this will all happen safely ... I wonder how the papers and the TV will cover it if we all carry pictures of the cartoons?

5:17 pm  
Blogger Voltaire said...

anonymous, my 8:05 post was a reply to you.

If you don't like it, we're not going to lose any sleep.

5:34 pm  
Blogger Voltaire said...

The two sided coin banner is an excellent idea. The true sense of Islamophobia - fear of Islam - is what is being exhibited by Jack Straw and the other appeasers, not by those who stand up for Western values and achievements.

5:36 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Of course a two sided coin would not work well for the all important photos!

5:46 pm  
Anonymous Sagunto said...

@ last "anonymous",

make 2 of 'em to show both sides on photo. I'd be happy to walk alongside to uphold the second banner ;-)

Sag.

P.s.: our very own "march for freedom & solidarity with Denmark" (Amsterdam feb. 25th), is under attack from so-called "anti-fascist-activists" who are launching their own counter-contribution to free expression. In the past the mere announcement of a counter-demo by these fanatics gave the authorities a perfect x-cuse to ban all demonstrations. Hope it'll not come to that this time.

All the best & good luck to you Voltaire, from Holland with kindest of regards !!!

6:15 pm  
Blogger Ophelia Benson said...

Are you sure there were no death threats over Jerry Springer? It was reported at the time that there were - phone calls to BBC executives.

8:12 pm  
Blogger Voltaire said...

Ophelia, no I'm not sure. Really unsure... the BBC doesn't even seem to sure, they just claimed that there had been "reports of death threats against TV execs" and Christian Voice, the organisation behind the demo outside the BBC said they "wrote direct to Roly Keating, Controller of BBC, Jana Bennett, head of BBC TV. These execs were so grossed off by ordinary people having the brass neck to write to them at home that they let the Mail on Sunday put out an untrue story that Keating had received death threats and had gone into hiding. That story was, as Jana Bennett said on Radio 4's Today Programme on 11th December, 'overstated' and Roly Keating said on Premier Radio on Sunday 23rd January that it was 'exaggerated'."

So it's a bit murky but seems to have been a concocted story.

8:27 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Wow. I've never read so many assumptions on one web page.

BNP members will turn up to that march, whether they want to or not. Unlike certain groups e.g. the SWP, the BNP doesn't have a history of hijacking causes.

Furthermore, being a BNP voter, supporter or a member, does not automatically make one a racist, xenophobe or an islamophobe.

I also find it insulting and patronising, that people are assuming that BNP members have a problem with muslims.

Amazing.

"Freedom of expression" - Only if I can tolerate your expression.

5:04 pm  
Blogger Voltaire said...

From the BNP website:

"The British National Party exists to secure a future for the indigenous peoples of these islands in the North Atlantic which have been our homeland for millennia. We use the term indigenous to describe the people whose ancestors were the earliest settlers here after the last great Ice Age and which have been complemented by the historic migrations from mainland Europe. The migrations of the Celts, Anglo-Saxons, Danes, Norse and closely related kindred peoples..."

That's very clear, and entirely racist.

Nowhere on this site have we suggested that their freedom of expression should be curtailed. We simply say that fascists are not welcome in this campaign. That rules out the BNP and it rules out Respect/SWP. Whether or not BNP members who visit this site like that stance is not going to influence us. It is and will remain our position.

5:53 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Telling the far right that they are not welcome is like a red rag to a bull and it shows that you have a genuine fear of them "hijacking the event". Hello? Why not just say "Hey you! BNP! I really think you're easily capable of hijacking this event, I'm really scared that you will, so stay away coz you're wacist and I don't like wacists!" - Yeah that'll work. Not.

While I would agree that the BNP has policies that could be deemed as racist, there are people working for change within that organization.

Surely it's just simpler, to say that you don't want people who are racist or have a hatred of muslims, to stay away, rather than mentioning certain political organisations.

I'm a working class white man, who was raised in Brixton. I've fought, befriended, had great sex with, drunk with, got stoned with people of all races for a long time.

I'm tired of middle class white blowins from places like Dorset, who want to live in edgy London. Upon arrival, young Benjamin, wants to prove to his new found token black friends from university, that he's not a racist. A very articulate Benjamin looks for that hapless working class white young man......and the rest I'm sure you can guess.

So. Am I racist? When I get back to London, I kinda avoid white people, because theres a fat chance, that they are middle class tossers who think that us working class whites would be hanging blacks from the lamposts, if it wasn't for the yoghurt eating Volvo estate brigade.

Whatabout OBV? They are hoplessly a racist organisation - are you going to ask their activists to stay away?

Also, I don't think much of your token jesture regarding excluding Swappies from your day out. Let's face it, the SWP think that the cartoons are racist, so you're hardly going to be swamped with Swappies now are you?

You're supposed to be campagning for freedom of expression. Peoples poltical affiliations are irrelivant. Your much better off telling people, that racism and islamophobia will be frowned upon and leaving it at that. You're attempts to specifically warn off the BNP, is just tokenism. It's like Richard Littlejohn, trying to convince us that he isn't racist, because he thinks the BNP are "scum".

If you are telling people to stay away because of their politcal affiliations, then you are not standing up for freedom expression for all. It's universal freedom of expression or bust my friend.

If it's freedom of expression just for the people you like, then I'm sorry, no, you are not marching for universal freedom of expression - therefore, you and your cause, are totally contrary to my cause and a counter march needs to be organised against you.

Free speech is universal. Anyone who is against universal free speech is my enemy.

I can't believe you are taking issue with peoples political affiliations. It's because of people like you, divisions are caused and nothing get's done in this country.

It's really quite simple.

"Are you for universal freedom of speech? Yes or no?"

Whether the people are marching with you are rent boys, publicans, solicters, communists, serial jelly baby eaters, judges, fascists, serial knicker sniffers, swappies, George Micheal fans, Tories, Tottenham fans etc is NO ONES BUSINESS.

All that matters is that a marcher supports the basic prinicple of universal freedom of speech and keeps his/her freakin gob shut about everything else.

7:54 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Devils Advocate.

....I really don't want any womans lib types turning up. They have their own political agenda you see. They are deeply islamophobic and have their own little beef with Islam and therefore there is a danger that they could try and hijack our demo....

Again devils advocate.

We don't want any pro-gay rights campaigners joining us on our day out. Gay rights campaigners are emotionally charged when it comes to Islam and we don't want to send out the wrong messages or for the pro-gay rights lobby to hijack our demo....

-------------------------


Getting the hint yet Voltaire?

People should be told to leave their poltics at home no matter who they are. People should be reminded it's about free speech.

By asking the BNP etc to stay away, you've fired the first politcal salvo and you ain't even stepped outside the front door yet....

8:19 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Also, Voltaire, why are you directly linking to the BNP website if you despise them so? You do realise that you are playing a small part in helping the BNP's google page rankings, don't you?

8:21 pm  
Blogger British National Party member said...

How do! good luck on your march. I am tending to go from one end of the country to the other, and dont know if ill be able to make it, but oh boy, id sure love to go.

Im also a BNP member, and whatever people think of that, surely the point is not that BNP members shouldnt go, but that if we do, we dont go "as" BNP. Like, you wouldnt want conservative hawkers handing out leaflets right?

The BNP site itself has said supporters shouldnt go, which i take to mean that we shouldnt do a march *as* BNP. As you have said this is a non-political thing, and more power to you for that. The last thing id want to see, after all, is a labour member trying to use the march for his own ends... talk about a red rag!

Heh.

Best,
Gareth.

11:22 am  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Freedom of expression presumably includes support for David Irving too. Or, are you intending to ban Lord Dahrendorf from your march?

http://www.project-syndicate.org/commentary/dahrendorf45

1:56 pm  
Blogger Voltaire said...

BNPmember: it would be outrageous for us to try to tell people what to do as private individuals. But Nick Griffin said the BNP is a: "strong, disciplined organisation with the ability to back up its slogan "Defend Rights for Whites" with well-directed boots and fists. When the crunch comes, power is the product of force and will, not of rational debate." This is completely incompatible with our campaign for a society free of threats of political violence, and so the BNP is also incompatible with us.

anon: I wouldn't quite say we support David Irving, but we do support his freedom to make an ass of himself without being imprisoned for it, yes.

6:30 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Voltaire.

If you shouldn't be asking any political party for involvment, why are you asking political parties to stay away, when none have mentioned any interest of direct involvement?

Admit it. You have a political agenda, which is why you have made political statements.

Please confirm that BNP, WNP and NF supporters are welcome.

Chers.

12:03 am  
Blogger Balder said...

Voltaire said:

"The British National Party exists to secure a future for the indigenous peoples of these islands in the North Atlantic which have been our homeland for millennia. We use the term indigenous to describe the people whose ancestors were the earliest settlers here after the last great Ice Age and which have been complemented by the historic migrations from mainland Europe. The migrations of the Celts, Anglo-Saxons, Danes, Norse and closely related kindred peoples..."

That's very clear, and entirely racist.

Nowhere on this site have we suggested that their freedom of expression should be curtailed. We simply say that fascists are not welcome in this campaign. That rules out the BNP and it rules out Respect/SWP. Whether or not BNP members who visit this site like that stance is not going to influence us. It is and will remain our position.


The BNP program you quoted may be interpreted as racist if you choose to do so. But if you are excluding people with this point of view what about the myriads of immigrant organizations which are organized on ethnic lines?

What about the organizations for muslim police, Jewish police, black police, gay and lesbian police and countless others, which are organized by religion / ethnicity or a mixture of both?

Immigrants have organized themselves by ethnicity / ancestry etc. This is all accepted and even Gov. funded in Great Britain! The only ones who are accused of doing something improper by organizing by ethnic criteria are White Indigenous Britons.

Racism is practiced by your own government and accepted and even stimulated by the government and so called anti racist organizations.

The reaction of the BNP is no different in this respect and a perfectly legitimate approach as long as this is tolerated from other groups. The BNP were not exactly the first ones to invent this 'racism'. To deny this is hypocrisy. Judaism is a race based philosophy as well. Are you going to deny the Jews the right to demonstrate as well?

Some thoughts about the race, racism and related subjects.

Balder

1:03 pm  

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