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Action Alert: Protestors to wear T-shirts with Muhammad Cartoons at Rally this Saturday

20 March 2006

IHRC urges all campaigners to contact the Metropolitan Police and the Mayor's office ...

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Islamic Human Rights Commission
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20 March 2006

Action Alert: Protestors to wear T-shirts with Muhammad Cartoons at Rally this Saturday

IHRC urges all campaigners to contact the Metropolitan Police and the Mayor's office to request that they uphold the law and prohibit demonstrators from carrying Islamophobic placards and t-shirts at a 'March for Free Expression' this Saturday 25 March 2006.


1. Background

A 'March for Free Expression' is to take place this Saturday 25 March 2006 in Trafalgar Square between 2 and 4 pm. The official purpose of the demonstration is stated to be to support freedom of expression but in reality, it appears to be virulently Islamophobic and racist in nature.

The organisers, Peter Risden and Patrick Vidaud, have permitted demonstrators to wear t-shirts bearing the offensive cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) and even supply a link on their website to another website where such t-shirts can be purchased. Furthermore, slogans which are being debated to be written on placards include, 'Islam, putting the world at war', 'Islam is a blast', Muhammad was a Sex Offender' and 'Death to Iran'. It is noteworthy that Muslim demonstrators were arrested earlier this month for carrying placards deemed offensive.

In addition, Nick Cohen, in an article in the Observer on 19 March labelled Muslims who demonstrated against the cartoons as "the brown far right" and "Islamic fundamentalists" demonizing all Muslims as Nazis and fascists when it is actually Muslims who are the current victims of this neo-fascism.

Although ostensibly the organisers have stated that the BNP are not welcome, there is much evidence to indicate that many elements of the Far Right will be present on the day. For example, a fascist group 'Civil Liberty', which is lead by BNP North-East organiser Kevin Scott, has issued a call on its website for its supporters to attend the march.

It is worrying that an event that appeals to the Islamophobic right is also supported by amongst others British Humanist Association, Ekllesia (a Christian monitoring group), the National Secular Society, UKIP, and Peter Tatchell. This event will set a dangerous precedent will be set whereby Islamophobic groups can use the issue of civil liberties as an excuse to demonise Muslims and Islam. This is not free speech or debate; this is vilification akin to the demonisation of Jews in Nazi Germany.

For more information about the march, its organisers and supporters, please visit

http://marchforfreeexpression.blogspot.com/


2. Suggested Action

Earlier this month, Muslim demonstrators were arrested for carrying offensive and provocative placards protesting the publication of the cartoons. IHRC is asking campaigners to contact the Metropolitan Police and the Mayor's Office and ask that the law be implemented equally and that any demonstrators holding offensive and provocative placards and t-shirts be similarly arrested.


Sir Ian Blair
Chief Commissioner of Metropolitan Police
New Scotland Yard
Broadway
London SW1H 0BG

commissioner@met.police.uk


Please also contact the Mayor's Office to make him aware that this demonstration is not about freedom of expression but vilification and hatred of Islam and Muslims. It is unthinkable that demonstrators would ever be given permission to use Trafalgar Square to display anti-Semitic or racist caricatures and rightly so. This seems to be further evidence that Muslims have become second-class citizens in Britain today.

Ken Livingstone
Mayor of London
Greater London Authority
City Hall
The Queen's Walk
More London
London SE1 2AA

Telephone: 020 7983 4100
Fax: 020 7983 4057
Email: mayor@london.gov.uk

IHRC urges campaigners to write their own letters. Sample letters are pasted below for your convenience. Please CC all letters to info@ihrc.org so we can keep track of the number of complaints lodged.



[Your Name]
[Your Address]


[Date]


Sir Ian Blair
Chief Commissioner of Metropolitan Police
New Scotland Yard
Broadway
London SW1H 0BG


Dear Mr. Blair:

RE: Islamophobic Demonstration on 25 March 2006

I am writing with deep concern about the forthcoming 'March for Free Expression' in Trafalgar Square on 25 March 2006. Although I have no issue with the march itself taking place, I am very worried about the nature of the march and the level of Islamophobia it will fuel.

The organisers have permitted demonstrators to wear t-shirts bearing the offensive cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) and even supply a link on their website to another website where such t-shirts can be purchased. Furthermore, slogans which are being debated to be written on placards include, 'Islam, putting the world at war', 'Islam is a blast', 'Muhammad was a sex offender' and 'Death to Iran'.

My concern is that this march will be very provocative and disturb the peace as it will promote Islamophobia and racism. Many elements of the Far Right will be present on the day, including 'Civil Liberty', a fascist group lead by BNP North-East organiser Kevin Scott. Other supporting groups include the British Humanist Association, Third Way Magazine, the National Secular Society, UKIP, and Peter Tatchell.

In light of the recent arrests of Muslim demonstrators for carrying offensive provocative placards, I think the police should implement the law equally and not allow such offences to be committed by any demonstrators. If demonstrators carry banners and t-shirts with cartoons depicting the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) on Saturday, they should be similarly arrested. Otherwise, the perception will remain that Muslims are mere second-class citizens in Britain.

For more information about the march, its organisers and supporters, please visit http://marchforfreeexpression.blogspot.com/


I look forward to hearing from you soon about this urgent matter.


Yours Sincerely,


___________________

[Your Name]



[Your Name]
[Your Address]


[Date]


Ken Livingstone
Mayor of London
Greater London Authority
City Hall
The Queen's Walk
More London
London SE1 2AA


Dear Mr. Linvingstone:

RE: Islamophobic Demonstration on 25 March 2006

I am writing with deep concern about the forthcoming 'March for Free Expression' in Trafalgar Square on 25 March 2006. Although I have no issue with the march itself taking place, I am very worried about the nature of the march and the level of Islamophobia it will fuel.

The organisers have permitted demonstrators to wear t-shirts bearing the offensive cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) and even supply a link on their website to another website where such t-shirts can be purchased. Furthermore, slogans which are being debated to be written on placards include, 'Islam, putting the world at war', 'Islam is a blast', 'Muhammad was a sex offender' and 'Death to Iran'.

My concern is that this march will be very provocative and disturb the peace as it will promote Islamophobia and racism. Many elements of the Far Right will be present on the day, including 'Civil Liberty', a fascist group lead by BNP North-East organiser Kevin Scott. Other supporting groups include the British Humanist Association, Third Way Magazine, the National Secular Society, UKIP, and Peter Tatchell.

In light of the recent arrests of Muslim demonstrators for carrying offensive provocative placards, I think the police should implement the law equally and not allow such offences to be committed by any demonstrators. If demonstrators carry banners and t-shirts with cartoons depicting the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) on Saturday, they should be similarly arrested. Otherwise, the perception will remain that Muslims are mere second-class citizens in Britain.

I am also appalled that Trafalgar Square will be used as an arena where such virulent Islamophobia and racism can be propagated. I do not believe that a demonstration at which protestors would hold placards and wear t-shirts with racist or anti-Semitic caricatures would ever be granted permission, and rightly so. Why is there a different law for Muslims?

For more information about the march, its organisers and supporters, please visit http://marchforfreeexpression.blogspot.com/


I look forward to hearing from you soon about this urgent matter.


Yours Sincerely,


___________________

[Your Name]


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