March for Free Expression

The next phase

Friday, March 17, 2006

Global Civility

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 March

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
We 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.

Mr Siddiqi's reference to global civility is capitalised because this is the name of a campaign that sets out the following aims:

  • 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.

There was a discussion about Global Civility at Harry's Place recently.

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 Sunnah
In 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.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Wow, they took their time I guess this was inevitable really. We have our own Muslim groups just to prove that these guys are not 100% the voice of Muslims. I think this group will try to undermine the Free Expression march with their respect or civility argument, we must be sure to point out the flaws to this specific argument in our banners and speeches.

8:03 am  
Blogger kes said...

After Martin Niemöller (1892—1984)

When they came for the communists, I did not speak out—
After all I was not a communist.
When they came for the socialists, I did not speak out—
After all I was not a socialist.
When they came for the filmmakers, I did not speak out—
After all I was not a filmmaker.
When they came for the cartoonists, I did not speak out—
After all I was not a cartoonist.
Then they came for me—
And there was no one left to speak out...'

9:55 am  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Kes, you are the Salt of the Earth|! This is genius! Thank you!

Polish Solidarity with Denmark

10:33 am  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Wow, that was an excellent response, Voltaire.

I think you should stick to your line about them supplying a speaker to the event: I went to both of the anti-cartoon rallies held in Trafalgar Square by the MCB/MAB people, and both times I asked them why they hadn't had speakers on the platform in favour of free speech.

After all, they keep banging on about dialogue, so how about some dialogue?

Needless to say, they dodged the question. These 'mainstream' organizations aren't really interested in democratic conversation, and an understanding o the concept of free speech they have none.

If the MAB/MCB won't provide, try getting Madam Bunting or Gary Younge of the Guardian, or one of the Labour MPs who voted for the Incitement to Religious Hatred Act.

10:33 am  
Anonymous publicansdecoy said...

Agreed, your response was very good.

It's disappointing, but perhaps not inevitable that something like this was going to happen though. Unfortunately, I suspect that the majority of mainstream media will let themselves be duped by MPAC :(

10:56 am  
Anonymous publicansdecoy said...

On that point, actually, have you contacted any newspaper columnists who might conceivably support this event?

Nick Cohen springs immediately to mind.


11:02 am  
Anonymous David said...

Surely one of the most important aspects of civility is allowing the other person to speak. MAC with their global civility campaign are effectively telling people to "shut up".

That's not very civil of them.

11:44 am  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

From their site:

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”

10. Muslims are fed up of being misrepresented by individuals who claim to represent them and their opinions whilst in fact articulating only their own views.

What can you say?

1:45 pm  
Blogger Voltaire said...

Buy the Observer this Sunday: Nick Cohen will be writing about this campaign.

6:20 pm  
Anonymous Jen said...

It's a spelling mistake.. the MAC really meant 'Global Servility' I'm sure they'll apologise for the confusion.

7:54 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

We have our own Muslim groups just to prove that these guys are not 100% the voice of Muslims.

lol, you had to go all the way to the US to get the Free Muslims Coalition because no Muslim group in this country would support you.

8:01 pm  
Blogger Lagwolf said...

Yeah that says a great deal about Muslim organisations in the UK doesn't it. So where are the moderates who want to live under UK law and traditions now?

12:41 am  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Have you read the 'Islamic Human Rights Commission' policies? The point seems especially dubious:

"To cooperate with other groups & individuals where such cooperation is
likely to further the achievement of these aims."

Which essentially translates to "we support terrorism" since they dont deny it anywhere else.

1:31 am  
Anonymous Sagunto said...

The "islamophobia-watchdogs" among some muslim org's, should take a good look in the mirror, reflecting on the possibility that "symptoms" of this pseudo-psychiatric syndrome might be a traumatic reaction to another phenomenon known as the:
SJS: Sudden Jihad Syndrome

(a recurring observation that a person who appears perfectly adapted to Western society, suddenly turns devout, taking a trip to Pakistan/Saoudi A./et c. perhaps, and returns a lethal jihadist backpacker)

Among the general public the sentiment, towards these org's that seem to act like some sort of "respect enforcing thoughtpolice", is better described by "islamofatigue", at least that's the situation in the Netherlands right now ;-)

11:47 am  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Have you seen this

11:16 pm  
Anonymous more ham head said...

how about,
'MAKE RELIGION HISTORY'in banner form or perhaps wristbands???

7:48 am  
Anonymous abu Shuayb said...

Its a real shame that this march is being hijacked by known Islamophobes.

When they came for the Muslims, I did not speak out—

Instead I helped the dig their graves.

7:03 pm  
Blogger dizzyfatplonka said...

Nothing wrong with belief in a god or even devotion to god, pray 5 times a day, 10 times a day, all day long if you like. Maybe its time to come to our sences, and understand that an omnipresent creater, whom knows every grain of sand, every hair on your head and every thought we have, does not require people to bow down to mecca or Arab supremacy. Whether religous or not, Jesus the Nazerine can be recognised as hero and martyre of free speech, someone whether seen as prophet, saviour or mere man, was tortured and crucified to get rather than be silenced from getting his message out, as many brave muslims are tortured and killed today for apostasy. Jesus was tortured and killed for free speech and his message lives on. Muhammed tortured and killed to spread his message, and his message is still torturing and killing today. To force people to believe. Most religions of the world today are waking up to the fact that muslims are taking the call for jihad serious, although not terrorists its being fought at many levels. Apostates today are the true heros of freedom. THOSE are the bravest muslim brothers and sisters any muslim could hope for, muslims claiming to be behind the freedom movement, should make this their priority.

1:05 pm  

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