March for Free Expression

The next phase

Tuesday, February 28, 2006

From Our Petition

Please consider adding your signature

Aisha, UK:
Freedom of expression and speech is absent across the Muslim world and dissent has dire consequences. If I wanted to be repressed I'd have stayed there.
Jens E Lassen, Denmark:
Free Speech is one of the most essential civil liberties in a true democracy.
Mark Alexander, UK:
Millions have died for this liberty we enjoy today.
Edward M. Bridle, Australia:
Minds cannot be free unless expression is free.
James R Burke, Canada:
Don't forget that it's difficult to learn ANYTHING without the freedom to ask questions about anything
Erin Bizon, USA:
This Country will never kneel to anything other then total FREEDOM, the media may but the people will not.
Malgorzata Zglinska, Poland/UK:
We have fought for freedom of speech as the Solidarity movement in Poland. For ours, and now for yours and ours again. We are all Danes.

Banners and Signs

We have a meeting with the Public Order Planning section of the Metropolitan Police at the start of next week, and will be discussing what banners and signs might say or show. Please check back for an update after the 8th March.

News Update: Supporting Organisations

We are very pleased to have the formal support of the National Secular Society, and look forward to welcoming their members on March 25th. They have given us this statement:
“The National Secular Society regards the principle of free expression as the bulwark of all democracy. Without the freedom to openly and vigorously debate, discuss and disagree, we lose all other freedoms. The world has reached crossroad on this issue, and it is incumbent on all who love freedom to stand firm against the would-be censors, whatever their motivation may be.”


Alan Johnson from Democratiya and Mark Wallace of the Freedom Association will be speaking at the rally in Trafalgar Square. Other speakers will be announced as they confirm with us.

Mark sent us this message:
"Freedom of expression is the lynch pin of a free society. No matter how offensive one might find another's views, the correct response is always debate, not legislation, imprisonment or intimidation."

We are delighted that all parts of our society, with and without faith, left and right wing, are coming together to affirm their belief in freedom of expression and a peaceful, tolerant society.

Monday, February 27, 2006

Viral Publicity Appeal

Note: This has absolutely nothing to do with computer viruses

Here's how viral publicity works: you email as many of your friends and acquaintances as you feel is appropriate, giving our email address, our blogsite address and the address of the online Freedom of Expression petition. And you ask them to forward the mail to everyone else they can think of. And so on.

Very rapidly, vast numbers of people can be reached in this way.

If you are prepared to help, here is a text that, if you want, you could copy and paste into your email. Otherwise, make up your own wording.
Hi,

I am supporting the campaign for freedom of expression, which is holding a rally in Trafalgar Square on March 25th 2006. They have a website at http://marchforfreeexpression.blogspot.com and their email address is marchforfreespeech@googlemail.com

The statement of principle for the campaign runs as follows:

"The strength and survival of free society and the advance of human knowledge depend on the free exchange of ideas. All ideas are capable of giving offence, and some of the most powerful ideas in human history, such as those of Galileo and Darwin, have given profound religious offence in their time.

The free exchange of ideas depends on freedom of expression and this includes the right to criticise and mock.

We assert and uphold the right of freedom of expression and call on our elected representatives to do the same.

We abhor the fact that people throughout the world live under mortal threat simply for expressing ideas and we call on our elected representatives to protect them from attack and not to give comfort to the forces of intolerance that besiege them."

It has been made very clear that this is a march in favour of freedom of expression and not a march against Muslims. Organisations from every part of the political spectrum have offered support, including the Free Muslims Coalition.

If you can, please join the rally on March 25th. Please consider signing the supporting petition at http://www.petitiononline.com/FoE2006/petition.html

And please, if you agree with this campaign, help it by forwarding this mail to as many people as possible.
It would be a great help if you let us know if you have done this, so we can measure results.

Left and Right Unite in Support of Freedom of Expression

The campaign for freedom of expression is now gaining endorsements from all parts of the political spectrum. Messages of support have come in from organisations as disparate as:

The Democratic Left:
The online journal Democratiya.

The Libertarian Right:

The Freedom Association

Please join with us to advocate a society in which we can agree, or disagree, debate, annoy and offend each other without anyone being threatened, hurt, killed or imprisoned.

YOU CAN HELP

Please consider emailing your friends and acquaintances, as well as organisations to which you belong, let them know about this campaign and ask them to support us.

Thursday, February 23, 2006

Free Muslims endorse the March in March

Moderate Muslims in Denmark have formed the Demokratiske Muslimer (Democratic Muslims) organisation to disavow the extremists and to state in public that the hate-mongering imams who stirred up the Danish Cartoon controversy do NOT speak for them.

In taking this step, they are joining the ranks of Muslim organisations who disavow violence and extremism and who seek to place religious activity in the personal, rather than public, domain. One of the first to be established, the Free Muslims Coalition, has been among the first organisations to endorse the March for Free Expression. Kamal Nawash, the President of FMC, was succinct when I read him the statement of principle. "Exactly," he said.

The FMC website includes this statement of purpose:
The Free Muslims was created to eliminate broad base support for Islamic extremism and terrorism and to strengthen secular democratic institutions in the Middle East and the Muslim World by supporting Islamic reformation efforts.

The Free Muslims promotes a modern secular interpretation of Islam which is peace-loving, democracy-loving and compatible with other faiths and beliefs. The Free Muslims' efforts are unique; it is the only mainstream American-Muslim organization willing to attack extremism and terrorism unambiguously. Unfortunately most other Muslim leaders believe that in terrorist organizations, the end justifies the means.
All too true in the UK as well as the USA, I'm afraid.

We are very grateful for the support and good wishes of the American branch of FMC. We also we look forward to being joined by the just-opening UK chapter on March 25th. We invite any UK based Muslims visiting this site who want to disavow the extremist "community leaders" who give tacit support to intimidation, violence and terrorism to consider joining the FMC.

And join us on our march in March.

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Freedom in the Netherlands.

Sagunto, from the Netherlands, posted this in a comment:
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 !!!


Best of luck to you too, Sag. We'd like to express our solidarity with and respect for you and your march. If recent events can bring together people all across the world in support of freedom, it will be a fine thing. I've seen comments from Poles saying this reminds them of the heady days of the Solidarity movement. I hope we can emulate them, and bring about real change.

International Solidarity

We are being contacted by people from all over the world, saying they would like to be able to participate in a march in favour of free expression. If you do not live in the UK, but feel the same, please get in touch by email and we can try to put compatriots in touch with each other, only and always with their prior consent.

It would be wonderful if people all across the world were to march in March for Freedom.

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Potted Herrings

A recent comment on this site reminded us of a couple of red herrings that are often raised in connection with this issue, so we'd like to give our take on them:
  • The cartoons were published in a right wing newspaper
The political stance of this newspaper is not an issue; we advocate freedom of speech even for people with whom we disagree.
  • The newspaper refused to publish cartoons about Christianity
We are not trying to dictate anyone's editorial policy.
  • There is no unrestricted right to free speech. Holocaust denial is a crime in many countries
Better comparisons are to be found in images offensive to Christians ("Piss Christ", Gilbert and George's current exhibition, etc) or satirical cartoons of George Bush as a chimp sodomising a camel (The Guardian), Ariel Sharon eating the head of a Palestinian baby (The Independent), or the abundance of extraordinarily anti-semitic cartoons published in the Islamic world. None of these have been banned, and none of the authors are living in safe houses in fear of their lives.

We hope to advocate a society in which people are free to express their opinions, artistically, satirically, tactlessly 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.

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.

Why

We, a group of individuals of no particular political leaning, are calling on organisations and other individuals to support a march for freedom of expression to be held in London and if possible simultaneously in other cities of the world.

We are doing this for two reasons. Firstly, to celebrate the precious gift of free expression that was entrusted to us by all those who fought so long and hard. Secondly, to remind our politicians of their duty to fearlessly protect free expression against all who wish to undermine it.

We wish to point out that this march and rally is not an attack on Muslims or members of other religious groups. We in fact welcome all members of all religions who believe as we do in the paramount importance of free expression.

Let's stand up, be counted and be seen.

Friday, February 17, 2006

When

We are delighted to be able to announce a provisional date for the march. We have booked Trafalgar Square for between 2:00 and 4:00pm on Saturday 25th March 2006.

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Statement of Principle

[addendum] We put this in the sidebar, so it's available as the site grows. But this post is being left in place so the comments remain available.[end addendum]

The strength and survival of free society and the advance of human knowledge depend on the free exchange of ideas. All ideas are capable of giving offence, and some of the most powerful ideas in human history, such as those of Galileo and Darwin, have given profound religious offence in their time.

The free exchange of ideas depends on freedom of expression and this includes the right to criticise and mock.

We assert and uphold the right of freedom of expression and call on our elected representatives to do the same.

We abhor the fact that people throughout the world live under mortal threat simply for expressing ideas and we call on our elected representatives to protect them from attack and not to give comfort to the forces of intolerance that besiege them.

Saturday, February 11, 2006

Starting point

This is the website and information point for the forthcoming March in Support of Free Expression, to be held in London in March 2006.

Information will be posted here about the event, together with updates on supporting organisations and individuals.

If you are interested in helping, attending or supporting this event, please contact us at marchforfreespeech@googlemail.com