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Thursday, November 02, 2006 

Scum-watch: "Faces of evil."

Another day, another rant in the Sun about the likes of Anjem Choudary and Abu Izzadeen, aka Omar Brooks, who were protesting outside the Old Bailey where a man was being tried for inciting racial hatred over the Danish Mohammad cartoons protest back in Feburary.

POLICE want demonstrators to be banned from burning the Union Jack – or any other national flag.

They should go further — and outlaw protesters who cover their faces.

Yesterday’s scenes outside the Old Bailey, where a defendant is accused of soliciting murder, were an outrage.

Belligerent extremists like these, masquerading as the voice of Islam, must surely offend any moderate Muslim.

The ugly mug of troublemaker Abu Izzadeen was clearly visible as he held a bullhorn for ranting Anjem Choudary.

But they were surrounded by thuggish figures in headscarves who scuffled with police.

Their headgear is a sinister reminder of the throat-slitting execution gangs who feature on al-Jazeera TV.

The violent image and their rabble-rousing words are an unacceptable challenge to British justice.

If the veil is a social barrier, as Jack Straw rightly argues, this terrorist-style headgear is downright intimidating.
The protest was actually the complete opposite of an outrage. It was amusing for all the wrong reasons. It showed the stinking hypocrisy of everything Choudary and his acolytes stand for. Their demands for sharia law, especially the kind of sharia law favoured by fundamentalists, would mean that the freedom of speech which allows Choudary to protest would be effectively destroyed. Choudary's denial of the Pope's freedom of expression, saying that under sharia law he could be executed for insulting the prophet, highlights the irony at the heart of their demands. They want to be free to incite murder against those who "insult Islam", yet favour destroying that very freedom for everyone but themselves.

Nothing that Choudary said at the demonstration, or the placards of those taking part, broke any laws. Choudary's claim that:

"We should not be surprised at people doing something like 7/7. How else do you expect Muslims to express themselves?"
while potentially offensive, is actually a slur on Muslims as a whole. It's not gloryifying terrorism, it's just a stupid remark from a man with a one track mind. The political climate of the last month, with hostility towards Muslims rising by the day after Jack Straw's comments on the veil, has been calmed down, partially because the media have moved on, but also because of the inclusiveness of those from the Muslim community who have moved to reassure the public, such as Salma Yaqoob, a woman who was targeted by the extremists herself. Choudary's remarks though are not the only problem; would it not be better to let Choudary and Izzadeen get on with what they're doing, rather than constantly giving them the publicity they so obviously desire for their cause? The answer should be obvious, but despite the Sun's constant refrain that Choudary offends "moderate" Muslims (note how you're either a moderate or an extremist, not just a Muslim), this is the same newspaper that constantly demands the Muslim community as a whole to unequivocally condemn terrorism, as if they every single one of them is in some way responsible. Their constant coverage of Choudary gives the impression that they view all the Muslims of Britain as a potential threat, rather than accepting that there are extremists within all communities, all faiths and all ideologies.

Choudary and Izzadeen with "evil" face covering fellow demonstrators; members of Jama'at al-Tawhid wal Jihad, Iraq based terrorist group, with hostages Eugene Armstrong, Kim Sun-il, Jack Hensley and Shosei Koda (RIP) -- only the group with Sun-il are wearing anything close to the head coverings of the protestors; an Iraqi Kurdish militiaman wearing a Keffiyeh.

More offensive than anything that Choudary said though is the casual way that the Sun not only calls those demonstrating evil, but links the protesters covering of their faces to the likes of groups such as al-Qaida in Iraq, the alleged perpetrators of the beheadings of hostages such as Ken Bigley. As can be seen from the photograph on the Sun's report page, it looks as if maybe one of them is wearing something similar to the scarves used by the terrorists in Iraq. These scarves are similar to the Arab Keffiyeh, worn by some men throughout the Middle East, and made famous by Yasser Arafat's fondness for them. In other shots from such videos, the masked men are wearing balaclavas, not scarves. The Sun's allegation that Choudary and Izzadeen were surrounded by those wearing them is thus rather hollow, as is the claim that all of them "scuffled" with the police. The Telegraph reports that 4 men were arrested, after one of them allegedly assaulted a photographer (probably one of the Sun's), with 3 of them attempting to help the one who had been grabbed by the police. On a demonstration that was attended by all of around 100 people, 4 having a minor scuffle with the police is not exactly a major news story, except when it's hyped up to be one.

The Sun's simplistic and inflammatory linking of the demonstrators to murderers when what they're clearly doing is hiding their faces is just another part of their unending support for whatever powers the police want, whether it's to be able to hold terrorists suspects without charge for 90 days or to ban flag burning. They seem to accept such chilling restrictions on the right to freedom of expression without thinking for a second about the consequences on other demonstrations, where those who wear fancy dress to make a point, such as Blair and Bush masks, or dressing up as the Grim Reaper for instance, would as a result of such legislation be effectively banned. Would the Sun also ban the wearing of hooded tops, if they were used by such protesters? We should be told. The Sun's rhetoric that such demonstrations are an unacceptable challenge to British justice is laughable. On the contrary, it makes clear that in this country we regard the right to protest as far higher up the list of things to protect, despite the dilution of it under Labour, than the right not to be offended by one issue campaigning hypocrites.

Oh, and if you want a comparison with the faces of evil, then there's this "news" article dedicated to Prince William being trained to "kill", complete with mocked-up photograph of Wills charging with a bayonet while grinning. Demonstrating with your face covered is unacceptable, but being trained by the army to end the life of another human being, rather than being a sad reality of today's world, is instead something worth actively celebrating.

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