Posts Tagged ‘Muslim caliphate’

Education Cuts & Egyptian Revolution – 2011

Monday, January 29th, 2024

Education Cuts & Egyptian Revolution: People were protesting on the streets of London on Saturday 29th January 2011 in solidarity with demonstrations in Egypt at the Egyptian Embassy. Elsewhere students, teachers, parents and others took part in a large peaceful march against increases in student fees and cuts in education and public services.

Solidarity with the Egyptian Revolution – Egyptian Embassy, South St. Mayfair

Education Cuts & Egyptian Revolution

Around 200 people, mainly Egyptians living in the UK had come to the street outside the embassy for peaceful but noisy protest “to show our solidarity & support of our fellow Egyptians in our beloved country, who decided on making Tuesday 25/01/2011 a day of protests & demonstrations in Egypt against the unfair, tyrant, oppressive & corrupt Egyptian regime that has been ruling our country for decades.

Education Cuts & Egyptian Revolution

The protest had brought together Egyptians from differing political & ideological backgrounds, inviting “inviting all supporters of human rights & civic democracy to come & support us in delivering our message to the Egyptian regime.”

Education Cuts & Egyptian Revolution

Their stated goal was to achieve “a democratic, free & civil nation capable of ensuring a dignified, honourable & non-discriminatory life for all Egyptians.

Education Cuts & Egyptian Revolution

Although the Arab uprising in Egypt in 2011 achieved some of its aims, including the end of the 30 year dictatorship of President Hosni Mubarak, it was followed by a struggle with the Muslim Brotherhood gaining power and Mohamed Morsi being elected as president in June 2012 only to be overthrown a few months later and the countrycpoming under the military regime led by Abdel Fattah el-Sissi since 2014.

In an interview with German news organisation DW ten years after the upraising an Egyptian activist commented “The counterrevolution has pushed the country into a state that is even more oppressive than before the 2011 revolution. The uprising has taken a terrible turn and has led to a tremendous regression.”

The protesters aimed to bring together people from across a wide range of political viewpoints, they refused to allow Hizb Ut-Tahrir protesters to join them, as they are opposed to human rights and democracy.

More pictures Solidarity with the Egyptian Revolution

Hizb ut-Tahrir Turned Away – South Audley St

Hizb Ut-Tahrir Britain, an Islamist group calling for the establishment of a Muslim caliphate, marched to the Egyptian Embassy to take part in the protest there but were turned away.

When they arrived they were met by Egyptians taking part in the protest and told very firmly that the embassy protest – like the Egyptian revolution – was to be entirely non-sectarian and that they were not welcome there.

Instead they had to hold their own separate demonstration around a hundred yards away around the corner along South Audley St, where they were spread out along the pavement between South Street and Hill Street.

As always at their events, everyone was dressed in black and the men and women were segregated. The men filled most of the pavement along South Audley St, with just a few women at one end, with most of them around the corner eastwards on South Street, away from the loundspeakers and the embassy.

As I commented it seemed a clear demonstration of the lack of equality they would like to impose. None of the speeches while I was there was in English, but I was able to gather that they were calling for Egypt to come under the rule of an Islamic Khalifah (caliphate), the “real change” which they see as the answer to everything.

It was a call diametrically opposed to the aims of the Egyptian revolution, which aimed to get rid of the oppressive regime and make Egypt a free and democratic nation, a secular state where there is no discrimination based on gender, religion or political views. The last thing they wanted was to replace one repressive regime by another, though depressingly that was what the future held for their country.

Hizb ut-Tahrir Turned Away

No Fees, No Cuts! Student March

The National Campaign Against Fees and Cuts had organised two large national protests in London and Manchester to defend education and the public sector. They took place a little over two months after another large student march had ended with a small group walking into the Tory HQ at Millbank and occupying it.

On that occasion the police had tried to carry out a brutal eviction and were met with an angry response, with the protesters smashing large plate glass windows to allow others to enter, though few did. A number of protesters and press were injured by police (and a few police injured too), though most of those at the scene simply watched from outside in the courtyard and were appalled when a stupid idiot threw an empty fire extinguisher from the roof and began to chant against him. Fortunately no-one was killed. But the event made the headlines of those media organisations which generally turn their blind eye to protests, though the reports didn’t much engage with the reasons for the protest or report fairly on all that had happened.

Police seemed to have learnt some lessons from their mistakes on that occasion and made much greater efforts to communicate sensibly with the protesters and not to kettle them or push them around. As I wrote “Despite the number of protesters in anarchist dress with facemasks, most students are not out to cause trouble.”

The march had begun with a short rally in Malet Street and I met it as the front was making its way out of Russell Square walking with it and taking pictures of the marchers and of short protests at Topshop and Vodaphone shops in Strand against their tax avoidance. Police lined the front of the shops and soon persuaded the protesters to move on.

Things livened up a little outside Downing Street were the march paused for some angry shouting and several people let of smoke flares before moving on. Many stopped for a while in Parliament Square, with some dancing to a samba band, but after a while everyone moved off to where the march was to end outside Tate Britain on Millbank.

Unlike in the previous November there was a large group of police lined across the entire frontage of the Millbank tower complex – bolting the stable door as I think it unlikely that there would have been any trouble.

The only sign of any conflict between police and protesters I saw did come outside here, when there was a brief sit-down after police tried to drive two vans full of reinforcements through the crowd. Sensibly the police simply brought in a line of officers to allow the vans to drive along the pavement rather than try to force people to move.

By the time I arrived outside Tate Britain with the tail of the march they rally there had ended and I decided it was time to leave, though some of those on the protest were planning to continue elsewhere – including going to the Egyptian Embassy where I had been earlier. Later at home I read reports on-line that half a dozen people had been arrested in minor incidents.

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Arab Spring Libya, Bank Teach-in: 2011

Sunday, February 26th, 2023

Libyan Embassy Protests – Knightsbridge

On Saturday 26th February 2011 we were in the heady days of the Arab Spring, and two groups of protesters came to the Libyan Embassy to call for Gaddafi to go.

Arab Spring Libya, Bank Teach-in

Gaddafi had tried to prevent the movement spreading to Libya, reducing food prices, purging the army leadership and releasing some political prisoners, but major protests had still begun across the country on February 17th. Gaddafi had not quite been the evil dictator that the Western press portrayed him as, but there had been extensive corruption and patronage and unemployment had reached around 30%.

Arab Spring Libya, Bank Teach-in

Gaddafi had begun to use the army to hunt down the protesters and hundreds had been shot, shocking many of the countries leading politicians some of whom defected to the rebels who by the end of February were in control of many of the major cities including Benghazi, Misrata, al-Bayda, and Tobruk.

On the day I photographed these protests were taking place outside the London embassy the UN Security Council passed a resolution suspending Libya from the UN Human Rights Council, implementing sanctions and calling for an International Criminal Court (ICC) investigation into the killing of unarmed civilians.

Arab Spring Libya, Bank Teach-in

Around 200 Hizb ut-Tahrir supporters had arrived first to protest and had occupied the pavement opposite the embassy, with a large orange banner ‘ ‘Arab-Muslim Rulers Are Traitors’. Many of the men waved large black flags with white Arabic calligraphy, but there were also placards in English, calling for an end of Western interference in Muslim countries.

There were a few women too, in a separate pen to once side, many of whom appeared to take little part in the protest, though some did join in the chanting of slogans. Hizb ut-Tahrir were calling for the replacement of Gadaffi by a Muslim caliphate, although there was apparently little support for this in Libya.

Arab Spring Libya, Bank Teach-in

Coming later, a number of Libyan students and supporters wanted to make clear they were separate from this Islamic protest. They went into Hyde Park to protest from a low grassy bank above the other group. They were at pains to make clear that the last thing that they wanted would be Islamic rule, which, as several pointed out has created a similar tyranny in Iran to Gaddafi’s Libya.

Later NATO intervened, supplying air cover for the rebel forces and launching air strikes against Gaddafi’s army. He was forced to flee, recording a farewell message and returning to his home area. Taking refuge from an air strike on a construction site, sheltering inside a drainage pipe, he was taken prisoner and killed by militia.

After his death, while Western leaders were triumphant, many across the rest of the world mourned him as a hero (as the Wikipedia article makes clear.) The future for Libya looked brighter, with trade unions legalised, press freedom and elections. But things have not gone smoothly since, as the UK government’s advice indicates:

The Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office (FCDO) advise against all travel to Libya. This advice has been in place consistently since 2014. If you’re in Libya against this advice, you should seek to leave immediately by any practical means. …

The political situation in Libya remains fragile and the security situation remains dangerous and unpredictable. Uncertainty about when postponed Libyan elections will take place is likely to heighten tensions throughout the country, which may lead to security incidents such as inter-militia clashes and oil blockades.

Libyan Embassy Protests

UK Uncut Lecture in TSB – Oxford St

From the Libyan Embassy close to Hyde Park Corner I made my way to Oxford Street to join around 70 UK Uncut protesters who were taking part in one of around 50 protests around the country against RBS/NatWest who had been bailed out in the banking crisis with £20 billion of public money – so we now owned 84% of it. But despite which it didn’t seem to be behaving in the public interest.

The Nat West branch in Regent Street where the protesters had intended to protest had shut down completely for the day, and after a short protest outside it, the protesters announced we would be moving fast to another location, and the mainly young protesters set off at a jog.

I managed to keep up with them – and was actually a few yards ahead when suddenly they turned and swarmed into a Lloyds TSB branch. I turned round and followed them in. There they began a series of lectures on the failures of the banking industry, tax avoidance and the alternative’s to the public sector cuts.

After around 25 minutes the police and branch manager came to ask the protesters to leave, warning them they would otherwise face arrest.After a short deliberation they went outside and continued the lectures on the pavement, and I left for other protests.

UK Uncut Lecture in TSB

Freedom For All Arab Nations! Trafalgar Square

The main event I wanted to be at next was in Trafalgar Square where around 200 people took part in an Arab unity demonstration.

This had been called at at short notice by British Libyans and friends demanding freedom for all Arab nations. Heritage Wardens forced them to move from the main square where protests need permission from London’s Mayor to the North Terrace, still officially a public highway although pedestrianised.

It was an animated protest, with a number of emotional speeches, mainly in Arabic and calling for Gadaffi to go, and there were plenty of placards, poster and banners for me to photograph.

More on My London Diary at Freedom For All Arab Nations!

I also photographed a couple of small protests taking place at the gates of Downing Street:

9/11 Truth Protest at Downing St
Hands Off Our NHS

Cyclist Deaths and Militant Muslims – 2013

Tuesday, November 29th, 2022

On Friday 29th November 2013 I went to two very different protests in London.

Islamists Protest Angolas Ban on Muslims – Angolan Embassy, Friday 29th November 2013

I’d had an interest in the rise of extremist Islamic movements in the UK since 2004, when I first photographed a march by Hizb ut-Tahrir Britain, and the activities of Anjem Choudary had attracted my attention for some years before this event in 2013. In 1996 he had been one of the founders of the Islamist al-Muhajiroun, an organisation which dissolved itself shortly before it was banned by the UK government as a terrorist organisation in 2010, going on to found a series of new organisations considered by many to be al-Muhajiroun under different names.

I can’t now remember under what title Choudary had announced ‘DEMONSTRATION AGAINST THE CHRISTIAN TYRANNY UPON MUSLIMS IN ANGOLA!’; another group he was associated with, Muslims Against Crusades, had been banned in November 2011, but I think many of those at this protest were the same individuals. The many posters they held named no organisation.

I’d gone to the Regents Park Mosque where a march had been announced to start to the Angolan Embassy, but as the crowds emerged after Friday prayers there was no sign of Choudary or his followers. Asking people there I learnt a small group had been present earlier but had left before the time announced and I gathered it had been made clear they were not welcome at the mosque.

I hurried down to the Angolan Embassy in Dorset Street, arriving to find a noisy demonstration taking place, but with no sign of Choudary. Another photographer told me I had missed them setting off firecrackers when they arrived. There were some loud chants echoing the message on the placards that ‘Muslims Will Destroy The Crusade & Implement ISLAM!’

As I wrote in the captions, “I came to the protest thinking for once that Amjem Choudary and his supporters had a just cause – Angola is clamping down on non-Christian religions including Islam. But it isn’t a ‘crusade’ but something that most Christians around the world and secularists would firmly oppose. But they would oppose it in the name of freedom. This was something rather different.

Finally Choudary himself arrived and began a lengthy speech. It was interesting and there was much that many including myself would agree with, as the Angolan regime has embarked on a purge of all non-Christian religions in the country. According to a report in The Guardian, there are only 83 approved religious organisations in Angola, every one of them Christian, and a statement from the Angolan embassy in the US claimed that they had ‘lots of religions’, citing “Catholic, Protestants, Baptists, Muslims and evangelical people.” In other words, freedom of religion – so long as it is Christian.

But what Choudary and his supporters advocate is not freedom of religion but the establishment of an Islamic Khilafah (caliphate), establishing Sharia law, where the only religion tolerated would be their extremist distortion of Islam. There was something new in his speech, when he talked about Islamic armies rising to “establish the Sharia” which at the time I thought was just wishful thinking on his part, but was in fact a chilling reality which became obvious as ISIS rose to occupy not Angola but a large territory in the Middle East around six months later.

Many of us were convinced in 2013 that Choudary was, if not an MI5 agent, at least protected by them and the police as a ‘honeypot’ for Islamic extremists, gathering them together to enable them to be readily recognised and kept under observation. It’s difficult to see otherwise why he had not been arrested for some of thee statements in his speeches at protests, careful though he was. But it was the rise of ISIS and his support expressed for Islamic State that led to his eventual arrest and sentencing in 2016 for five and a half years under the Terrorism Act 2000.

Islamists Protest Angolas Ban on Muslims

Cyclists ‘Die in’ at TfL HQ – Blackfriars Rd,
Friday 29th November 2013

Cyclists are the most vulnerable of road users, riding unprotected among cars and lorries whose drivers are cased in powerful and heavy metal shells. Pedestrians also lack any protection, but are usually provided with pavements which cyclists cannot legally use.

That of course is stating the obvious, but it’s an obvious that is almost always obscured by heated anti-cyclist opinions forcefully expressed, about cyclists who get in the way of motorists, or who ride aggressively on pavements, cross red lights and fail to wear cycle helmets etc.

I write as a cyclist and a pedestrian, and a former if reluctant driver. As the latest Highway Code makes even clearer, cyclists have a right to be on the road and are a part of traffic just as much as any car or lorry. And there are probably about as many bad cyclists as there are bad drivers, perhaps rather more given the number of people too young to get a driving licence who ride bikes.

We now have many shared paths for bicycles and pedestrians and accidents on them are rare, and very seldom cause significant injuries to either party, though the few that do get great publicity. Many of us also occasionally ride on pavements which are not officially shared, and do so with care for those on foot, in places where the roadway is dangerous and there is no separate provision for cyclists. I won’t get into cycle helmets in depth, but they provide little protection and may well decrease the safety of cyclists as well as making cycling a rather less convenient activity. And the emphasis on their use is simply trying to put the blame on the victims of road accidents rather than trying to make the roads safe.

There are many reasons why cycling should be encouraged and proper facilities provided. It improves the health of those who cycle and leads to a cut in expenditure on health services, is an almost non-polluting form of transport and much more efficient in the use of road space, reducing congestion for others, and a cheap solution particularly to many shorter distances in cities. Many cities have become better places to live by welcoming and providing proper provision for cycling.

The protest outside the London HQ of TfL demanded safer road provision for cyclists. It was organised after 14 cyclists had been killed in London over the previous years. For more than 50 years the design and provision of roads has been almost entirely based on increasing the flow of motorised vehicles, with other considerations being largely ignored. And faster traffic becomes more dangerous for pedestrians and cyclists – congestion actually makes cycling in central London safer.

Even where TfL has begun to provide cycle ‘superhighways’, these have been badly designed at many junctions, and marked cycle paths are often used as parking places, forcing cyclists into the heavy traffic the path is meant to avoid. Some cycle lanes in my area are far too narrow and on uneven road edges making them dangerous to ride on even where they are not obstructed by parked vehicles, others have stop signs at every minor road or even injunctions to dismount.

On My London Diary you can read the list of eight demands the protest made to improve safety and get more people using bikes. As well as spending more money on cycling infrastructure they included a ban on vehicles whose drivers are unable to see adjacent road users. Most deaths of cyclists are caused by drivers who turn left at junctions unaware that there is a someone on a bike in their path.

After a short introduction to the event there was a long silent vigil while a cellist played solemn music, and those who had brought candles came and lit them around a bicycle. Then there was a speech reminding us that Amsterdam had become a much more pleasant city with high bicycle use following a series of protests in the 1970s had prompted the city into action – with die-ins such as that which followed. Police at the scene estimated a thousand bicycles and cyclists took part, though organisers thought it was double this. The BBC reported it as ‘hundreds’ in a typical media response to cyclists and protests. Then the rally continued, with more speeches and the reading out of the names of cyclists killed on the streets.

More at Cyclists ‘Die in’ at TfL HQ.

Student Fees & Cuts And Two Views On Egypt

Saturday, January 29th, 2022

The main event I covered 11 years ago on 29th January 2011 was a march by thousands of students, teachers, parents and others through London to defend education and the public sector. The demonstration, backed by the National Campaign Against Fees and Cuts was one of two national marches today, with another taking place in Manchester.

Two months earlier on Nov 10th a similar national protest had ended with some protesters storming into the Conservative Party HQ on Millbank, where considerable damage was caused and a number of protesters and police injured. Protest stewards tried to stop them but were unable to do so, and there were apparently very few police around as they rushed in. It was an hour before riot police arrived and began to fight the students and force them out. Around a dozen of the protesters were injured badly enough to require hospitalisation, along with three police officers. Fortunately no one was killed when a protester threw a fire extinguisher off the roof into the crowd below. 54 people, mainly students were arrested.

I’ve often criticised the police estimates of numbers taking part in protests, typically less than a half of the actual participants, and on that occasion they had been misled by their own estimate that only 20,000 would attend the protest. On the day it was more than twice that number, and the 225 officers deployed was far too few.

There were further student protests in November and December where police came out in larger numbers and some seemed to be taking revenge for their earlier failure – including twice dragging one protester from his wheelchair and across the roadway and almost killing another who was later charged with taking part in violent disorder along with four others – and eventually all were found not guilty.

But by 29th January police tempers had cooled, and too many videos and reports of their extreme actions had been aired on social media and even in the mass media. They were taking no chances this time and there were many more police around, but they were also doing their best not to provoke confrontation.

As I commented in my report on My London Diary:

Police do seem to have learnt lessons after their mistakes last year, and I saw no real problems arising today. Despite the number of protesters in anarchist dress with facemasks, most students are not out to cause trouble. But if police start pushing people around, or kettling them, problems are going to arise.

And later:

At one point outside the Millbank tower complex, police wanted to drive a couple of vans of reinforcement through a crowd, and some people sat down on the street. Police asked them to move but met with no cooperation. Rather than try and force the issue, police just formed a line so that the two vans could bypass the seated students and drive along the pavement. It was a simple solution that avoided further friction. Later there were reports of half a dozen people arrested in minor incidents.

My London Diary

As in November, the event ended with a rally close to Tate Britain on Millbank, but by the time I arrived with the tail end of the march this had ended. I was a little surprised by this as it was a much smaller event then in November, with perhaps 5,000 marchers, but perhaps few speakers had wanted to attend. Some of the marchers planned to go on to protest in Oxford St and at the Egyptian Embassy, but for me it was a chance to walk across Vauxhall Bridge and catch a train home.

I’d been at the Egyptian embassy earlier in the day, and photographed two protests taking place there. Opposite the embassy Egyptians had gathered “”to show our solidarity & support of our fellow Egyptians in our beloved country, who decided on making Tuesday 25/01/2011 a day of protests & demonstrations in Egypt against the unfair, tyrant, oppressive & corrupt Egyptian regime that has been ruling our country for decades.”

A hundred yards away Hizb ut-Tahrir, an Islamist group calling for the establishment of a Muslim caliphate was also holding a protest. The Egyptians opposite the embassy had told very firmly that the embassy protest – like the Egyptian revolution – was to be entirely non-sectarian and that they were not welcome there.

More about all three protests on My London Diary:
No Fees, No Cuts! Student March
Solidarity with the Egyptian Revolution
Hizb ut-Tahrir Turned Away