Muslims are Welcome: No Danish cartoons, please
At the very start of this campaign, we said this is a march in support of freedom of expression, not a march against Muslims. We meant it. But there has been a lot of mistrust about this from Muslims, and some disappointment from those who would like to use it to attack all followers of Islam. The latter is of no consequence to us; the former is a great concern.
Comments here have been illuminating. Particularly striking has been the use of the "First they came for..." motif both by people who feel under attack by Muslims, and by Muslims who feel under attack in Britain and Europe. Let's ignore whether these sentiments have reflected reality. The fact is they do represent the way people feel. People feel under attack from each other, there is vast mistrust and misunderstanding.
At the outset, we said that displays of the Danish cartoons would be welcome on Saturday. No, let me rephrase that: At the outset, I, Peter Risdon, said the cartoons would be welcome. I am going to take full responsibility for this. I now think that was a mistake.
In practice, Muslims who wholeheartedly endorse our statement of principle, as quoted below by Peter Tatchell in his superb essay, who abhor the threats made against Danish cartoonists and believe people should have the right to publish things they themselves find offensive or abhorrent would be UNABLE to come to our rally on Saturday, because to be surrounded by these cartoons, now, in the present context when the BNP are using them as a rallying point, would be intolerable.
So I now appeal to people not to bring the cartoons on T-shirts or placards.
Instead, because the principle of free expression must be upheld in this context as well, we will arrange a forum in which they can be seen and debated without this being, in context, intimidating to anyone.
The principle of freedom of expression is used, by some, as a trojan horse, as a proxy for racism and islamophobia. Not by me. Not by us. Not by this campaign.