This afternoon, after jumu’ah, there was a demonstration outside the Danish embassy in Sloane Street, London, which was supposed to follow a march from the “Central Mosque” near Regent’s Park. I got to the embassy around 2:15pm, to find a collection of what one might call “the usual suspects” outside the embassy: men in kefiyyehs, brandishing black and white flags, with hostile expressions on their faces and yelling stupid slogans. (They had women there as well, although they were markedly less noisy.) Having arrived from the Sloane Square direction, I decided on arrival that I was going over to the other side and joining the media. (Tags: Cartoons, Denmark, Jyllands-Posten, Islam. More: Pickled Politics, Opinionated Voice, IslamicPolitik.)
There, I set about telling various journalists, and some who were not journalists, that the core of the people across the road were in fact “serial demonstrators” who have a history of attending other people’s demonstrations, shouting slogans largely unrelated to the issue at hand, and casting a bad light over both Islam itself and the demonstration. So, last year the media reported that a demonstration had taken place outside Grosvenor Square at which former Guantanamo detainee Martin Mubanga spoke and violent anti-American slogans were chanted (, ). I later discovered that the demo had been crashed by people the organisers said were al-Muhajiroun. And I suspect that the same was true here.
The slogans included the “highly relevant” “Khaibar, Khaibar, ya Yahood, Jaish Muhammad sawfa ya’ood (Khaibar, Khaibar, oh Jews, the army of Muhammad will return - Khaibar was a Jewish settlement near Medina which was defeated in a battle by the Sahaba, radhi Allahu ‘anhum)”, “democracy hypocrisy”, “Denmark go to hell”, “USA go to hell”, and various other threatening and bellicose phrases, coupled with uses of phrases like “Allahu akbar” as shouted slogans. An outsider could be forgiven for thinking that these phrases had threatening meanings given the way these men use them.
Anyway, I had to leave the embassy just after 3pm, as I had other business to attend to down in Croydon. It was, however, later reported by the BBC that “hundreds” of Muslims demonstrated, which indicates that this group were vastly outnumbered by the people who arrived in the main march from Regent’s Park. One wonders if these idiots will be the people who get the column inches, giving the world the impression that the cartoons offended only extremists like those I saw in Sloane Street today and those who invaded the EU compounds in Palestine. Still, let them do a brief Google or Technorati search and this entry may well come up in the first few pages; nobody with access to the Internet has any excuse for not doing some basic research before they publish, but they do anyway.
Update 9:30pm: The Evening Standard is reporting that the main march did indeed involve people with posters declaring “Blair jumps to defend the Jews like a monkey” and “Remember 9/11” and shouting slogans like “USA, you will pay” and “the Holocaust was a lie”. If someone was there and can tell us that nobody shouted these slogans, by all means let them say so here, but if it’s true, the question must be asked why they chose these slogans which are completely irrelevant other than to give gratuitous offence to the locals in the same way as the cartoons gratuitously offended us, although much as the cartoons didn’t do the Danes’ reputation much good, neither did shouting offensive slogans in the streets of London do much for their own reputations. In fact, it would have made them look like asses; dumb slogans really are the bane of demonstrators everywhere. The Standard also showed a picture of a young boy holding a banner with the words “EUROPE You’ll Come Crawling When Mujahideen come” (the rest was below the bottom of the picture, but you get the message). One of the earlier arrivals presented his own banner to some of the cameras, and it read that they would defend Jesus (‘alaihi as-salaam) as readily as Muhammad (sall’ Allahu ‘alaihi wa sallam), or words to that effect. The Standard obviously had so much room (they had to fit in the picture of the masked men in Gaza), but let’s see if someone else finds room for that picture. Cage Prisoners and Stop Political Terror, the people behind most of the recent demonstrations, make no reference to this demo or the issue behind it on their websites.
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