March for Free Expression

The next phase

Thursday, March 09, 2006

Report: Meeting with Metropolitan Police

We met the Met earlier this week and discussed arrangements for March 25th, including the question of banners.

Hyde Park is already booked for that date, so we could not start a march from there. Although they emphasised that if we elected to choose an alternative route, they would support that decision and help with the selection of a starting point, they asked us to consider the cost to the taxpayer of policing a march and the inconvenience it would cause Londoners. We felt these were reasonable considerations and so have decided that we will instead ask people to assemble in Trafalgar Square for 2:00pm on Saturday March 25th. We plan to start promptly, so please try to get there in good time.

This is not just a campaign about the Danish Cartoon affair, though we are strongly supportive of the cartoonists' right to draw any subject they like, and we offer our solidarity and support to the Danish people in this difficult time. We know some people want to bring banners showing the cartoons, or wear them on T-shirts, so we ask them to consider the following.

There are two broad contexts within which the cartoons might be displayed. One is "F*@$ all Muslims" and the other is "I am Spartacus/We are all Danes". We will not welcome displays that fall into the first category. This is not an anti-Muslim campaign, we do not endorse that sort of sentiment and we are proud to have support from some Muslims. We share our society with Muslims and will have no part in incitement of hatred towards them, our neighbours. If on the day we feel that any banners do incite hatred, our stewards will ask for them to be removed and, in the case of a refusal, we will ask the police to intervene. We are not prepared under any circumstances to allow this to be hijacked by hate-mongers.

And in anticipation of our resident BNP commentor: no, this is not a restriction of the right to free expression. We support your right to make whatever stupid and hateful remarks you like, but we reserve our right to ensure they are not associated with our campaign. So take them elsewhere.

We do regret that there was not a broader "I am Spartacus - we stand together, you can't just pick on one Danish newspaper" movement among the world's press and media. If people wish to reflect this sentiment and display the cartoons we would suggest either no caption at all or "I am Spartacus", "We are all Danes".

If there is then a police intervention on public order grounds it will be a clear case of a peaceful, constructive, legal display being interfered with by the intolerance of one or more groups.

We will be running a banner making workshop in London nearer the day, and will post a distillations of some of the best slogans from the suggest banners thread later. Wit is preferred to spleen, as always.

16 Comments:

Blogger Renegade Eye said...

I found this blog surfing.

It is good to see a progressive blog, that is against Islamism.

4:53 am  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I will be abroad on this day and so won't be able to join in but I wish you all well.

11:59 am  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

A fine aim, but it seems this is destined to be an anti-islamic march.

People of all races and nations are oppressed frequently. Free speech denied as a matter of course.

Unless it matters more if white europeans are the ones being oppressed ?

£5 to anyone carrying a denmark flag with a "made in china" label.

12:32 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Renegade eye - Against Islamism ? Against extremism surely - how you can be in support of free-expression but anti-islamic is a bit baffling.

12:43 pm  
Blogger Dan said...

Anonymous II misses the point brilliantly.

Freedom of speech is a universal right that EVERYONE, regardless of race, religion or political stance deserves.

By your rather twisted logic, should we do nothing because others in the world have less freedom than we do? Or should we only be supporting their struggle for freedom of speech?

Have a look at the list of those supporting the rally - if this was only about white Europeans, do you think the Nigerian Humanist Movement or Maryam Namazie would be interested?

By your logic, it would be pointless marching for workers' rights. After all, other people round the world are forced to work in far worse conditions than we are... "Unless of course it matters more if white Europeans are the ones being oppressed" - try telling that to a trade unionist...

Incidentally, do you have anything constructive to add?

12:52 pm  
Blogger Dan said...

Anonymous III: I'm not sure that's what renegade eye said. The term "Islamism" is generally used to refer to extreme political Islam that wants to see sharia law instated the world over. Such a form of Islam allows no criticism of the prophet, death for apostasy, restricted roles and legal powers for women etc., thus making it incompatible with true freedom of speech and expression.

But you're right - you can't really be for freedom of expression and anti-Islam itself. Here's Trevor Philips recent statement:

"Speaking after the uproar over cartoons depicting the Prophet Muhammad, Sir Trevor Phillips said that the right to offend was an “absolutely precious” part of British identity. He also suggested that Muslims who wanted Sharia should leave the country.

But Sir Trevor said that non-Muslims must also accept the right of imams to denounce homosexuality in a way that many would find offensive. “One point of Britishness is that people can say what they like about the way we should live, however absurd, however unpopular it is,” he told Jonathan Dimbleby on ITV1.

“That’s why freedom of expression — including Muslim leaders’ right to say they think homosexuality is harmful — is absolutely precious.”"

1:04 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I agree -- why isn't the Campaign for Press and Broadcasting Freedom throwing its weight behind this?

http://www.cpbf.org.uk

1:44 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ditto the Rationalist Press Association:

http://www.rationalist.org.uk/

I don't know if they've been approach but they should surely concur?

1:45 pm  
Blogger Voltaire said...

The Rationalist Press is preparing a statement of support. The cpba is thinking about it.

Thanks for mentioning these organisations.

2:01 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

That's cool. A shame Index on Censorship and PEN haven't signed up fully though.

2:19 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Anonymous said...
A fine aim, but it seems this is destined to be an anti-islamic march."
Could you please explain what you mean by "anti-islamic"? If you mean voicing valid criticism about Islam's tenets then you are right and this is exactly what freedom of expression is all about and what we are fighting for. If that is the case then our understanding of the expression "anti-islamic" is very different. To my mind "anti-islamic" means prejudiced against Islam, which implies irrationality and assumption. "Prejudice is, as the name implies, the process of "pre-judging" something. It implies coming to a judgment on a subject before learning where the preponderance of evidence actually lies, or forming a judgment without direct experience." (wiki).
Last but not least if criticism cannot be substantiated with evidence then it is void and there is nothing to worry about. True virtue is not afraid of satire. Why should it be? Truth can always defend.

Polish Solidarity with Denmark

3:49 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Truth can always defend itself and wins.

Polish Solidarity with Denmark

3:51 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

hmmmm,
'free expression demo', but don't wear certain T-shirts and don't say certain things..in case you get arrested (or your head cut off) presumably.
Free speech is an absolute surely; like sovereignty, you either have it or you don't.
I wish your march every success - but heaven forbid you should offend anyone.
You have lost before you even started.

3:46 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"And in anticipation of our resident BNP commentor: no, this is not a restriction of the right to free expression. We support your right to make whatever stupid and hateful remarks you like, but we reserve our right to ensure they are not associated with our campaign. So take them elsewhere."

There's only one BNP commeneter around here and he's been rather dimplomatic.

I refuse to be, because what has so far been blogged by one organiser of this event, has been an outrage.

So far there has been not one shred of remotest evidence that there will be a "hijack" of this event by any group to the "right of Thatcher". Yet so far, a certain organiser involved has decided to pigeonhole everyone in the BNP as some kind of "racist suspect" who left unchecked will turn the event into some kind of hate march.

Let's be clear here.

A) I've met many a BNP member who does not offer an opinion about Islam, never mind muslims as whole.

B) I've met lots of people who are not BNP who are abolsolute biggots when it comes to Islam and muslims.

In short, me, Christopher David Barnett, must be one of the very few hapless working class chirpy white cockney's who has been banned from messageboards because

A) He LOVES muslims.
B) He HATES muslims.

Despite the fact, that erm...I've never in my life offered anyone any view regarding muslims.

You may as well ask me what I think of white, black, gay, straight, catholic or hindu people....

erm...they are kinda people just like us that have the same kind of asperations as the rest of us, don't you think?

Yet I can be banned from a Texan messageboard because I disagree that muslims are evil, but be banned from a British messageboard, because I think that the socialists/liberals are using muslims for their own agendas.

Boycott the march. It's being organsied by someone who has his/her own political agenda. Depsite polite requests not to isolate people, he/she has decided to keep up the retoric implying that anyone associated with the British nationalism has an anti-muslim agenda. It's a lie.

12:03 am  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

fuck the queen

jesus was a poof

smash capitalism

support hamas

burn the rich

detroy the church

no borders freedom of movment for all

cardrivers are killers

suport the rights of criminals, no more jails

free abu hamza

some of my suggested banners

11:00 am  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

take heroin

smoke pot

snort charlie

the police are racist killers

the british are a genocidal, nationalistic bunch of morons with more blood on their hands than the rest of the world put together

close the banks, smash the stock market

private ownership is a crime

psychedelic drugs are good for you, encourage teenage use

why dont we fuck in the road

no more free market

leave work, benefits for all

the popes a gibbering pathetic imbecile

the tory party is racist

more banners

11:08 am  

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