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. You can find the documents on the Secret Squirrel page.

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 citizen who just cares about democracy, think again.

A couple of stories recently have highlighted the double standard in policing protests:

Daily Telegraph: Man arrested for wearing balaclava in veil protest 

Guardian: So many causes, so little time, in which comedian Mark Thomas demonstrates the draconian way police harass the common man who protests within 1km of Parliament. Mark was threatened with arrest by several police officers despite having valid permits for his protests.

Compare the above to these Islamic protests:

The Pope must die, says Muslim, Evening Standard – in which a mob of balaclava wearing Muslims with placards stating ‘Behead all those who insult Islam’ gather outside Westminster Cathedral after Sunday Mass. There are many complaints from the public but no one arrested.

Cartoon protest slogans condemned, in which another mob converge on London after the Danish cartoon controversy and call for more violence. Police arrest no one at the time but after sustained public criticism they eventually arrest one man.  

What are we to learn from this blatant double standard? Simply that the more polite and non-violent you are, the greater the likelihood you will be abused by the state. 


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