Policing Islamic Protests
The recent hoohah over Muslim veils has prompted me to upload a request I made last Spring to the Metropolitan (London) police about the way they handle Islamic protests.
Any casual observer will note that the best, and seemingly the only way, to avoid arrest for protesting these days is to do so under the banner of Islam. You can wear a full balaclava and threaten to behead the pope outside Westminster Cathedral with a gang of your religious brethren and the police will stand idly by, but if you’re rash enough to protest as an upstanding, non-religious-fanatic citizen who just cares about democracy, think again.
The police provided a partial answer to my request, though they used two public interest extensions leading to a three-month wait. Even so, they refused to disclose the police logs from recent protests. This is due once again to the antiquated contempt of court law in this country that stifles debate about the most pressing and important issues in our society.
It is interesting to note also how the police have adopted the moralising language of the protestors by describing the protest as being spurred into action against ‘anti-muslim cartoons’. Whether or not a drawing of Muhammad is anti-muslim is a value judgement and one the police should not be making. It would be the same if the police took up the language of fundamentalist christians at a rally against abortion and called the opposing side ‘pro-abortionists’, rather than pro-choice.
FOI request to Met Police (7 Feb 2006)
Met Police responce (8 May 2006)