Counter demonstrations have been arranged for the 25th March by a group called the Muslim Action Committee. This seems to hover beneath the umbrella of the Islamic Human Rights Commission (IHRC), which has issued a press release:
31 towns and cities nationwide to demonstrate for Global Civility on the 25th MarchWe think the inclusion of a reference to the BNP in this press release is an attempt to associate this campaign with that political party which, as anyone who has looked at this site will know, is deeply dishonest.
The Muslim Action Committee (MAC) have today condemned the Freedom of Expression March due to be held on the 25th March in Trafalgar Square whose organisers have said that they welcome bringing placards and wearing t-shirts depicting the abusive cartoons. Shaykh Faiz Siddiqi said “This is an offence against Global Civility and a provocation to 1.6 billion Muslims. The continued irresponsible actions of the BNP in distributing leaflets with the cartoons on across the country are also provoking anger throughout the Muslim community”
MAC is calling it’s supporters to carry on the Campaign for Global Civility in the face of these continued attacks on the Muslim community. 31 towns and cities are preparing to demonstrate on the 25th March in their local town and city centres and the MAC others will join.
The cities and towns already signed up are: Birmingham, Manchester, East London, Bradford, Liverpool, Glasgow, Worcester, Woking, Rochdale, Bedford, Nottingham, High Wycombe, Huddersfield, Stoke, Oldham, Coventry, Peterborough, Keighley, Preston, Dundee, Bristol, Halifax, Bolton, Nelson, Wolverhampton, Middlesborough, Luton, Derby, Banbury, Oxford, Watford, Hounslow and Slough
Mr Siddiqi's reference to global civility is capitalised because this is the name of a campaign that sets out the following aims:
There was a discussion about Global Civility at Harry's Place recently.
- Protest and condemn all insults that have been directed against the honour and dignity of the Holy Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him);
- Convey cohesive debate and uniformity of response against the perpetrators of the offensive material;
- Expose the hypocrisy and double standards applied to the administering of the right of ‘Freedom of Speech’;
- Mobilise a movement to prevent and dissuade the demonising of Muslims and vilifying of Islam;
- Demand a dialogue with the appropriate authorities for setting a minimum benchmark of civility.
Global Civility place their own campaign in perspective by including an article on their site headed:
The Obligation to believe in the Prophet, obey Him and follow His SunnahIn their statement they demand restrictions on speech that would effectively prohibit any and all discussion of religion, unless it is flattering. They also demand that copyright of the Danish cartoons be handed over to "Muslims" and that Jyllands-Posten perform a monthly penance (there's a distinctly sadistic undertone to these demands for ever more baroque forms of apology and self-abasement).
I have asked them, in the interests of free speech and peaceful dialogue, whether they would like to supply a speaker to put their case to the rally on the 25th. They did reply but didn't answer this question, instead asking me about my views on freedom of expression. I have asked them to let me know whether they will supply a speaker, before we move on to their questions. After all, it's unlikely that we'll agree about free speech. When they reply, I'll update you.
We should be flattered, though. They would not be getting in such a flap about us if they did not see the makings of a powerful movement. Indeed, Global Civility, the Muslim Action Committee and the IHRC are more concerned about us than we are about them. This campaign is not specifically directed at Islam and that fact that they feel under examination by us just reflects their own view of their own beliefs.
There has been a pattern of attempts to restrict freedom of speech and expression from a number of religions and from secular sources as well. In some ways, the secular threats to our freedoms are the most sinister, something the volubility of Mr Siddiqi and his associates can blind us to. Orwell understood the value, to an authoritarian regime, of a perpetual state of emergency and a "War Against Terror" provides exactly that.
For the organisers of this campaign, the Danish cartoons affair was merely the straw that broke the camel's back. That feeling seems to be more widespread than we had realised. I have a feeling that, to paraphrase Hunter S Thompson, when you stand in Trafalgar Square on the 25th March and look out at the crowd, if you have the right kind of eyes you will be able to see where the wave broke and started to roll back.