Tuesday, 12 January 2010

Islam 4UK: A Time and A Place

The government has seen fit to ban the organisation Islam 4UK after they initiated protests at Wootton Bassett. There is rumour that the organisation set out for the town on Sunday, triggering the mobilisation of a counter demonstration. This site points to a media black-out of the event. However, Islam 4UK are hailing their ban as a victory. On their web site they argue that the government is undermining freedom of expression, damaging democracy, instigating a type of apartheid against Muslims and showing its self to be hypocritical.
Does the government think that by banning the organisation they can somehow ban the idea that it represents?
Freedom of expression, it seems to me, is crucial for democracy. However, there's a time and a place: most people would feel outrage at the disruption of a funeral by demonstrators; they would feel outrage if political graffiti were daubed on their property or community buildings; they may even feel outrage if their organisations (and heartfelt convictions) were banned.
Interactive Democracy provides a system - a time and a place, as it were - to express a political point of view and call for change. It could provide a pressure release valve for the frustrations of many different sections of society. And it facilitates proper measures to maintain law and order without destroying the tolerance and freedom that are necessary for a progressive and democratic society. Interactive Democracy is a fair and civilised way to demonstrate.
(By the way, just to provide some context, I am a disbeliever.)

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I completely agree that, " freedom of expression is crucial for democracy." In fact I couldn't agree more, it is a perfect expression of a lofty ideal and aspiration for our society and this ideal is so easily and utterly destroyed by the simple addition of the word 'however.'
The ideal of freedom of expression cannot survive, if's, but's or do you mind if I don't's. It is very important that we grow to realize that freedom cannot mean the right NOT to be offended, no such right CAN exist in a free society.
The law must be applied even handedly to all demonstrators and protestors. If laws are breached in the enactment of a demonstration then those who are at fault should be prosecuted regardless of their race, creed or political views. As for there being a 'time and a place,' well that is purely a matter of perspective, surely!
It is also, in my view, possible to grant permission to demonstrate whilst putting in place 'reasonable' restrictions to limit the impact on the local populations. Please see the restrictions imposed on the Westbrough Baptist church funneral demonstrations.
If we allow the free speach of one group to be trampled on, if we collectively agree to look away whilst our society flirts with tyranny, we become tyrants and should look forward to the day when our right to speak and shout and scream if necessary is stolen from us.
It is already illegal to read a list of names within a certain radius of Parliament, are we really that afraid of the views of others? Do we really think that the lies, truths and half truths of any group are something we need protecting from?
One of the costs of liberty is to risk the possibility that your views are unsupportable and discreditable it is a proving ground that could engage or filter out the extremists, too late in this case unfortunatly.