Please note that the following post contains the views of the author on a number of contentious issues in our society today.
These are the views of the author and not necessarily those of The English Democrats Party
It was ironically a famous Frenchman, Voltaire, who was attributed with the following quote that I think underlines a basic tenet of English society – ‘ I may not agree with what you say, but will defend with my life your right to say it’.
The right to free speech has been enshrined in the English way of life for centuries, and has been a cornerstone of our democracy that has enabled open debate and the advancement of new ideas that have shaped our country.
The events of the last few months have brought home to me how much our rights are being curtailed, and how this government is operating a two tier system regarding the right to free speech which I believe is heavily weighted against the English.
The Al Quds Parade
On Sunday 21st September, an annual march was carried out which is sponsored by The Iranian Government and the terrorist organisation, Hamas. The Al Quds march is supposed to be in support of the establishment of a Palestinian state, but features anti-semitic and anti-Western rhetoric at every opportunity, and as you can see from some of the pictures they are pretty much in favour of extremist groups such as Hizbollah.
Speakers at previous marches have also included members of the group Hizb-Ut-Tahrir, an organisation banned across the continent and whom David Cameron promised to outlaw whilst in opposition – Now in government, he puts Metropolitan Police officers out in force to escort their demonstrations.
Slogans on some of this year’s placards included ‘For World Peace Israel must be destroyed’ and ‘We are all Hezbollah’, whilst children sported T-Shirts with an upraised fist holding an AK47 assault rifle.
Just visible in the middle of the march on the first picture is a large red banner, which sported the logo of The Communist Party of Great Britain.
Each year, the march is counter-protested by The Iranian Green movement and March for England. However, this year the Police decided that MFE were not welcome and there followed a cat and mouse game around the pubs surrounding the area as the counter-protesters stayed one step ahead, finally arriving in small groups at Trafalgar Square where the march was due to finish and addresses were to be made to the crowds. The photo at the bottom of Nelson’s column shows the Police issuing Section 14 dispersal orders to anyone on the square they thought was involved in the counter demo – I had already been issued with one simply for wearing an England Rugby shirt, and had been told to retire to the other side of the road behind a row of metal barriers before the march arrived (From where the first picture was taken)
Whilst we could not see or hear the speeches from where we were contained behind the cordon, footage is available on the internet – I viewed them through an Australian site called www.israellycool.com , and was quite disturbed by what I saw. Former Prime Minister Tony Blair’s sister-in-law, Lauren Booth, gave a speech calling for terrorism and praising Hamas. Chairman of the European section of Islamist group Hizb-ut-Tahrir, Abdul Wahid, spoke of his respect for fighters ‘making jihad’ and that the only time Palestine has seen peace between Muslims, Christians and Jews was ‘when sincere Islamic rulers ruled with justice’.
John Rees of the stop the war coalition spoke in praise of violent acts against the Israeli embassy in Cairo, whilst probably the most repugnant of the speeches was from Shabbir Rizvi – Speaking about President Obama , ” Uber Uncle Tom history will call you, and a coconut is always white on the inside and black outside”.
What is the difference between a statement like this from Mr Rizvi and similar racist statements from other groups? Most right thinking people in our community speak out against such sentiments, and prosecutions have followed under the Race Relations act, yet Mr Rizvi has abused his right to free speech with a Police escort in the shadow of Nelson’s column!
Tower Hamlets and The English Defence League
The EDL announced recently that they were going to march in the East London Borough of Tower Hamlets.
Tower Hamlets has a large Muslim community and is home to the East London Mosque, so the reasons for the march could be considered provocative in some quarters. I spoke to a number of people from the EDL who I have met at other organisation’s events, and all told me that they were going along to defend the rights enshrined in English law to free speech, freedom of religious belief and freedom of choice. They also informed me that there should be one law and one law only in this country, that of the crown – Recently a number of posters have turned up on the streets in Tower Hamlets declaring it to be a sharia law and gay free zone, as can be seen in some of the pictures below.
I could go in to a number of reasons that were given to me why the march should go ahead, but probably the best piece I have read about why many felt this protest necessary came from the pen of my friend, the journalist Esmerelda Weatherwax, which can be viewed via the following link
The mayor of Tower Hamlets, Luftur Rahmann (Who was expelled from the Labour Party because of his links to extremist groups) , lobbied the government to ban the march, and last week Home Secretary Theresa May issued a banning notice on all marches in East London for 30 days. However, under British law there is no right to ban a ‘static’ demonstration, so the EDL pushed ahead with the demo.
In an interesting development, the UAF (Unite Against Fascism, a group that counter-protests EDL demonstrations) first celebrated the ban on the march, and then tried to get a petition accepted that would allow THEM to march as part of their democratic right. George Galloway’s Respect Party also put out a statement on their website on 29th August stating that ‘freedom of speech is a fundamental right’ but that they wanted the EDL banned from practising this particular ‘fundamental right’ as they are ‘only there to whip up hatred’.
This raises two interesting questions – Firstly, why is it the right of only one part of our society to have free speech according to Mr Galloway’s organisation?
Secondly, if the EDL were there to ‘whip up hatred’ as has been put about by Respect, the UAF and the SWP (Socialist Workers Party), what would be the difference that allowed the Al Quds march to go ahead where there were posters and banners as seen in the earlier part of this post? Surely, whipping up hatred is a bad thing irrespective of where that hatred is coming from and who it is directed at?
I also find it difficult to understand where the likes of Hope not Hate are coming from when I saw pictures of placards they were carrying saying ‘no to homphobia’, yet they were standing alongside Islamists who have put up posters such as the ‘gay free zone’ one further up the page, and the sharia law zone posters that have been appearing in the East End.
To see for myself what was going on in London on 3rd September, and to see if free speech is still a right for all of our community, I joined my friends from March for England to observe the EDL Tower Hamlets demonstration.
London, Saturday 3rd September
I met up with March for England in a bar in the shadow of The London Eye in the morning, and after a couple of cups of tea with my ED colleague Ben Weald, I broke a rule of mine never to have a drink before 12pm to settle my nerves. Information was coming back that counter protesters were out in force in Whitechapel, and a lot of chatter on the net was that they had a very hostile reception planned for the demonstrators.
We proceeded from here via cab to Liverpool Street, where people were starting to drift in from a number of organisations who were also on the demo alongside the EDL. A selection of pictures are below, and show a mainly peaceful demonstration that was pretty well handled by a combination of the Metropolitan and City of London Police.
The Police formed a line along the front of the station, and we were shepherded in to the Hamilton Inn, which features beautiful fittings and wall paintings from a bygone age.
The pub stopped serving shortly afterwards, and we were held whilst other groups of demonstrators were escorted down from Kings Cross. It was interesting to note that there were many middle aged and female protesters alongside the younger element that the media frequently show when covering marches. There were also attendees from the gay, Jewish and Asian English parts of our community which flies in the face of some of the reports that I regularly read in the press about the far right and racist nature of the EDL.
There were even protesters from north of the border from The Scottish Defence League (SDL) who had travelled down for the day – It was quite surreal for an old English patriot like myself to be happily strolling next to the Saltire of Scotland!
Despite being held for some time, there was also very little in the way of disorder and both protesters and Police were chatting happily.
When the main body had arrived, we were escorted through Liverpool Street Station and out of the side entrance., and then on through the streets to the demo point just outside of Aldgate tube station.
We had been given leaflets explaining what was considered acceptable and what was not under Section 13 and section 60 of the Public Order Act by the Police, and I commented to one of the EDL stewards at the edge of the Police Line that section 13(8) of the Public Order act 1986 on the sheet said it was an offence to take part in a prohibited procession yet he had been pretty much marched by the Police in contravention of the order. “Nah”, he smiled, “This isn’t a march, just a quick stroll”
The sound system was fired up, and the first speaker came on. He then introduced ‘Rabbi Benjamin Kidomer’, who came on to stage and removed his beard and wig to reveal himself as EDL Leader ‘Tommy Robinson’ – He explained to the assembled crowd that the disguise had been necessary as he was breaching his bail conditions by being at an EDL event. He then spoke out against stifling of free speech, Islamic hate preachers and the persecution of the gay community in Tower Hamlets. He also said that he is facing a court case which could lead to an ASBO and a three year banning order from the demonstrations, which he said he would not observe as he regards it as an abuse to his right of free speech.
After a few minutes, the Police decided that they could not allow this to continue, so moved in to arrest Mr Robinson. This led to a scuffle as EDL supporters refused to move, and Mr Robinson escaped down a side street. This was the only major mistake I saw the Police make all day, as the mood could have turned ugly and it would surely have been easier just to make the arrest after he had come off of the stage. However, EDL second in command Kevin Carroll came on to the stage and called for order, and things calmed down quite quickly. He then proceeded to give a similar speech calling for equal rights for all and an end to homophobic and anti-semitic behaviour from extremists.
Once the speeches were over, we were held for a while by the Police line, and then we were squeezed up and escorted out. There was some crushing at the front due to the ‘kettling’ tactics, and a few people were pushed and hit with batons but again this was fairly well policed. The line at the back had kept behind them the counter protesters from the UAF and any large scale civil disorder had been averted.
We were then marched out of the demonstration zone, and down through some of the historic parts of London as can be seen by the following images.
Flags and banners were in evidence, and there was some singing from the EDL – Again, this would seem to have been in breach of the banning order but The Police were quite happy and were chatting with the protesters in a relaxed manner as we walked past The Tower of London and across Tower Bridge. A few on the march commented that the Tower would have been useful for any extremists that had turned up at this point, and the general concensus was that the day had gone off really well and a point had been made.
A couple of EDL members said to me that they were disappointed that they had not had the demo further in to Tower Hamlets itself, but the main feedback I got was that the message was more important than where it had been relayed from and that by the Police setting up the stage and demonstration point where they had it had ensured a safe event for all concerned.
To have gone further in to Whitechapel would have been foolhardy, and in my opinion the right call was made by both the Police and the EDL organisers to minimise the risk of violent disorder.
I was interested to see the reports in the press and on line this morning regarding yesterday’s events in Tower Hamlets, and one report stood out to me from the BBC. They reported that a coach carrying 44 EDL members broke down on the Mile End Road in Tower Hamlets, and ‘about 100 Asian teenagers then pelted it with bricks and stones’ according to their reporter on the scene, Paraic O’Brien. He estimated that around 200 Police officers and some riot vans moved in to escort the EDL members to a double decker bus – The Police arrested all 44 of the EDL members. The bus was then blocked by a group of youths who sat down in the middle of the road, forcing it to stop, whilst a large group of Asian men arrived from a nearby estate. The Police then charged the youths, scuffles broke out, and another group standing on a footbridge overlooking the road threw bricks at the bus – Fortunately, Police managed to clear the road so the bus could get through.
In total, including the 44 on the bus, Police reported 60 arrests yesterday from both sections of the demo. I saw no arrests of anybody around me during the EDL demonstration (Apart from the abortive attempt to arrest Tommy Robinson)
The Right to Free Speech also carries a responsibility
Our long held belief in the right to free speech also carries with it a responsibility. That responsibility is to use our rights thoughtfully, and to never abuse them.
I find the outpourings of some of the Islamist element in our society abhorrent, but it is not for me to say what is and is not acceptable for people to say. I would hope that at some point the likes of Anjem Choudhary and his ilk would realise what a gift free speech is, and to use it thoughtfully, but I won’t hold my breath.
What I CAN do is to also use my right to free speech to counter their arguments and put my point of view across, which is why I was dismayed to see the different attitudes towards the two marches above from the powers that be in London.
On Al Quds day, the Police were deployed to stop any hint of a protest getting anywhere near a demonstration that featured anti-semitic, racist and anti-Western sentiments. We were dispersed to the other side of Trafalgar Square, but obeyed all Police instructions and there was no hint of violent disorder. The marchers were allowed to preach their hate in central London at a major landmark, and there was next to no discussion in the British media of the event despite the controversial nature both of the subject of the speeches and the organisations that fund it.
On the EDL march, a massive Police presence was required because of threats made towards the demonstrators by the UAF, SWP and Extremist Islamic organisations. It was made clear that any right to exercise free speech in Tower Hamlets would be opposed with violence as seen in the description from the BBC reporter of what happened to the EDL coach that broke down on the Mile End Road. My last excursion in to Whitechapel ended up in the ridiculous ‘Bromley 15’ episode (Posted 12-07-11 – ‘The Bromley 15 – Proof that we no longer live in a free country), where the Police arrested myself and 14 others from March For England who just happened to be having a pint in The Blind Beggar pub because they ‘suspected’ that we were there to ‘disrupt’ an Islamic Extremist Conference. It is obvious that parts of London have now become areas where free speech is unacceptable due to a combination of the insidious creep of alternative legal systems and the pernicious stench of Political Correctness.
Next Sunday (11th September) marks the 10th anniversary of the atrocity of 9/11, where Islamic extremists crashed passenger aircraft in to the twin towers of the world trade centre in New York, and in to the Pentagon. A fourth aircraft crashed in a field after the passengers fought back to overpower the terrorists.
MAC (Muslims against Crusades) and their vile mouthpiece Anjem Choudhary have posted on their website that they are going to have a party outside the American Embassy in Grosvenor Square to celebrate their ‘victory’ over the infidels, a gross misuse of free speech. Unlike the useless Politicians and the PC high command of the Metropolitan Police, I won’t be throwing my toys out of the pram and demanding a ban or a gagging order as they did to the EDL March – I will be exercising my right to free speech on the other side of the road, and I suggest that all of you who are outraged by the latest MAC sick stunt (They also burnt Poppies in London on Remembrance Day last year) join me and the other English patriots who will proclaim our right to free speech – Loudly, proudly and peacefully!