We’re always told, on pain of charges of “Islamophobia,” that Islam is not a monolith, but is gloriously diverse. So where is the diversity? 100,000 signed a petition against the freedom of speech. Where are the 100,000 Muslims standing up for the freedom of speech? Where is the Muslim demonstration against blasphemy restrictions? In the wake of the Charlie Hebdo jihad massacre, we have seen Muslims demonstrate against the cartoons of Muhammad in Chechnya, Pakistan, Iran, Niger, and elsewhere, and now in Britain. Where are they demonstrating on the other side?
“Swarming around hero Monty, the hardline Muslims protesting AGAINST freedom of speech: Thousands gather outside Downing Street over ‘uncivilised’ Charlie Hebdo cartoonists,” by Ian Drury and Chris Greenwood, Daily Mail, February 9, 2015:
Hardline Muslims protesting against the depiction of the Prophet Mohammed in cartoons swarmed around a statue of Field Marshal Bernard Montgomery yesterday.
The show of disrespect to one of Britain’s greatest heroes in the war against Nazi suppression of freedom came as more than 1,000 Muslims demonstrated in London against ‘offensive’ caricatures of the prophet.
A boy aged no more than ten was among those carrying placards saying Insult My Mum And I Will Punch You – quoting Pope Francis in the wake of the Paris attacks.
The Pope had said people ‘cannot insult the faith of others’ and that he would punch someone if they offended his mother as he debated freedom of speech following the murders of the Charlie Hebdo magazine cartoonists.
Yesterday organisers refused to allow men and women to protest together, insisting they were segregated.
Despite the rally passing off peacefully with no arrests, the banners carried a thinly veiled threat of violence towards those who continued to exercise free speech. Leaders of the protest also sparked anger by claiming the ‘extremist’ cartoonists massacred in Paris for depicting the Prophet Mohammed were as bad as the jihadis who gunned them down in cold blood.
In a gathering outside Downing Street, the hardline Muslim Action Forum berated ‘uncivilised expressionists’ who drew satirical images of the prophet for ‘sowing the seeds of hatred’ – effectively blaming the victims for their own murders.
Muslims gathered outside the gates to No 10 to protest against ‘offensive’ caricatures in Charlie Hebdo and other Western publications. Protesters gathered yards from the Cenotaph which commemorates those who gave their lives in wartime for freedom. Children were among the crowd which waved placards emblazoned with the words Charlie And The Abuse Factory, and Learn Some Manners.
The rally, which blocked off half of Whitehall, was staged a month after two AK-47-wielding terrorists attacked the Charlie Hebdo offices, killing 12 and wounding 11 in revenge for printing cartoons of the prophet – deemed blasphemous in the Muslim world.
But speakers at the protest provoked anger by appearing to equate in seriousness the drawing of the cartoons with the murders that followed. Shaykh Tauqir Ishaq, a Muslim Action Forum spokesman, said: ‘Perpetual mistakes by extremists, either by cold-blooded killers or uncivilised expressionists, cannot be the way forward for a civilised society.
‘The peace-loving majority of people must become vociferous in promoting global civility and responsible debate. At this time of heightened tension and emotion, it is crucial that both sides show restraint to prevent further incidents of this nature occurring.’
The crowd of protesters shouted slogans and waved placards with the words ‘Charlie and the abuse factory’ and ‘learn some manners’
Davis Lewin, deputy director of the Henry Jackson Society security think-tank, said: ‘These comments are shameful. Let me be crystal clear: discussion of the content of such cartoons is absolutely irrelevant in the context of the radical Islamist executioners that carried out the Paris attack.
‘In Europe, you do not get to object to any kind of material, however distasteful to your beliefs, in that manner. We must reject categorically the false equivalence his risible comments assert.’
Although peaceful, the protests echoed those staged in Britain a decade ago after a Danish newspaper published cartoons of the Prophet Mohammed. More than 300 protesters marched to the Danish Embassy in central London. On that occasion, the crowd threatened murder and glorified the July 7 bombings in London which killed 52 innocent people.
A leaflet issued by the Muslim Action Forum yesterday claimed recent republishing of cartoons of Mohammed were a ‘stark reminder’ that freedom of speech was routinely abused to ‘insult personalities that others consider sacred’.
It said: ‘Such actions are deliberating insulting and provoking to Muslims worldwide.
‘In an already fragile world we need to move from actions of incitement, hatred and provocation to civility, consideration and respect.’
The group did express ‘deep regret’ at the Paris terror attacks, insisting the massacre was a ‘violation of Islamic law’.
But a number of speakers who addressed the throng of Muslims claimed the drawings were ‘an affront to the norms of civilised society’ – an accusation that drew fury from critics who pointed out that they had not denounced the beheading, crucifixions and rapes in Iraq and Syria.
A delegation took a petition signed by more than 100,000 British Muslims to 10 Downing Street.
Last night it remained unclear who is behind the Muslim Action Forum, founded in 2012, which issued the call to gather in Downing Street. According to their website, they want to ‘promote peaceful demonstration’ in ‘defending the honour’ of the Prophet.