Today’s show of strength was organised by the Muslim Action Forum, part of a programme of Global Civility.
They were not protesting out of concern for the Frenchmen and women killed in Paris last month, keen to show that Islam is indeed a Religion of Peace.
They were not mourning the death of fellow Muslim Muadh al-Kasasbeh, the Jordanian pilot burned alive in a cage last week.
No, they were only concerned about the Charlie Hebdo cartoons.
Their flyer said that they are devising a legal strategy to “prevent the continuous insulting and derogatory publication depicting and abusing the personality of our Holy Prophet Muhammad pbuh”. They intend to launch a series of legal challenges in the English Court system “to establish that such depictions of our Holy Prophet peace be upon him is the worse kind of ‘Hate Crime’ that can be perpetrated on the 3 million Muslims in the UK….”
I have photographs of the demonstration. I can’t tell you what the speeches were about as so many of them were in Urdu and of course the prayers were in Arabic. What I know is from the programmes and flyers that were being handed out.The speakers were amplified onto two screens which towered over Whitehall.
The Facebook page boasted that 100,000 Muslims were coming from all over the country. They were about 98,000 short; I estimate around 2000, men to the east, women to the west.
There was a counter presence from the EDL. Coming so soon after the demonstration in Dudley, and at relatively short notice huge numbers could not be mustered, so the men decided to make their point by holding flags of nations that have recently suffered an Islamic terrorist attack. France, Canada, the USA. England of course, and the EDL Je Suis Charlie flag.
At this stage they were allowed to greet and converse with passers by and tourists. I am told that French and American tourists expressed some appreciation at the sight of their flags on the streets of London.
The demonstration was scheduled to start at 11am and continue until 3pm. That is much longer than most groups are allowed to occupy the designated space in Whitehall. All afternoon numbers kept a-coming and spilled out of the area to occupy most of the area outside the Ministry of Defence. I was saddened to see that the Cavalry soldiers at Horsegurads were removed and the gates of Horseguards parade were locked as numbers rose.
Had they been needed I am sure they were in readiness, and not in ceremonial kit either.
A few photographs from the men and boys end.
They were coming into Whitehall from both ends. This was the closest I got. The police moved me on immediately after I took this picture.
The man leading the EDL team asked the police to see that the Cenotaph and the Women of World War II memorial were treated with respect. That seeing the Cenotaph used by flag holding demonstrators was distressing to us, but they were not asked to move.
That apart they were much better behaved and better mannered than the group that follow Anjem Choudary. But they were told to be in the flyers handed out; “we must behave in a way that truely is in line with … beautiful Islamic etiquette and mannerisms”
There were a lot of green and orange flags. I didn’t find out what they symbolised. From one or two of the men’s turbans I wonder if there was a Shia presence in the crowd. At the annual Al Quds march Shia and Sunni Muslims will forget their age old differences when faced with the common enemy.
The black flag is unmistakable.
Men crowded across Whitehall right up to the security gates which protect Downing Street these days. And at the gates of Downing Street the collecting buckets were doing the rounds.
I noticed that next on the programme at 14.45 pm was Salawaat and Salaam on Holy Prophet and final dua followed by presentation of the petition to No 10 Downing Street. I decided to leave to get a head start on the tube.
Photographs E Weatherwax and London Division. February 2015
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“The show of strength was organised….” Yes. These “shows” are not spontaneous: nor are they merely organised: they are instructed.
This was a malignant express threat to freedom of speech, in just the same way as the malignant assault on free speech outside the Danish Embassy
Democracies function on free speech: it is necessary to be able to debate all subjects. There is no such thing as freedom of speech BUT….
Free speech is free speech.
Kudos to the gentlemen from the EDL.
So if “the worst kind of hate crime that can be perpetrated on the 3 million Muslims in the UK” is for infidels to publish pictures – any kind of pictures – of mohammed…why have they been complaining so loudly about people looking at them funny, or about a bit of bacon on the door of a mosque, and such?
Anybody – Muslim or non-Muslim – drawing a picture (whether jocular/ satirical or neutral/ descriptive) of mohammed….shock! horrors! unthinkable! And they scream about ‘hate crimes’.
Meanwhile, it isn’t just the murder of the Charlie Hebdo cartoonists or the murder of the Jews in the kosher supermarket, that Muslims are dishing out to non-Muslims. In Pakistan a large mob of Muslims attacked two Christians, Shehzad Masih and Shama Bibi, dragged them out of their house, beat them to a pulp, and then threw them – still alive – into a brick kiln to be burnt to ashes. This, because poor Shehzad and Shama had been – falsely, and with deliberate malice – accused, by other Muslims, of having burnt a Koran. No Muslim, anywhere within the West, has ever suffered anything like that. And yet Muslims yowl about the mere drawing of a picture of Mohammed, and try to pretend that this constitutes ‘Hate Crime’. Or pretend that they are grossly persecuted, if someone merely gives a funny look at a hijabette on the bus. I am disgusted.