Five Muslim men who protested at a home-coming parade in Luton where soldiers were called murderers have been found guilty of making threats. The charges related to a march by The Royal Anglian Regiment through the town in March 2009. The five men, all from Luton, were convicted of using threatening, abusive or insulting words and behaviour likely to cause harassment and distress.
District Judge Carolyn Mellanby said: “I have no doubt it is abusive and insulting to tell soldiers to ‘Go to hell’ – to call soldiers murderers, rapists and baby killers. “It is not just insulting to the soldiers but to the citizens of Luton who were out on the streets that day to honour and welcome soldiers home. Citizens of Luton are entitled to demonstrate their support for the troops without experiencing insults and abuse.” She went on: “The fact that they say they did not intend their remarks to be insulting does not amount to defence in law. They were fully aware that shocking phrases in such circumstances would inevitably cause distress.”
Defence lawyers had argued the right to freedom of speech was at stake. Earlier in the day Jubair Ahmed’s lawyer used philosopher Voltaire’s views on freedom of speech to defend him. In her closing speech for his defence Sonal Dashani said: “Voltaire said ‘I disagree with what you say but I will defend to the death your right to say it.’
“That was in the 18th Century. Things have moved on since then, though perhaps not as quickly as one might have liked. If you believe in freedom of speech you have to accept that some things will be said that you will like and some things will be said that you will not like.”
Angry scenes broke out during the parade for the 2nd Battalion The Royal Anglian Regiment, known as The Poachers. Lawyers defending the men said their clients discussed their plans to protest with police beforehand, had agreed to a time and a place to do so with them, had complied with police throughout and officers had not objected at the time to their slogans.
They were dumb things to shout out (although arguable factually correct, they could not know if the specific soldiers had engaged in such acts but the coaltion forces have committed rape, murder and killed babies, welcome to the realities of war oh genteel Britons). ‘Troops home now, Stop the war’- would have been a better angle, however one thing the war loving commentariat love to do is wank on endlessly about the values of Teh Enlightenment and how the Islamo-caliphate/fascists or whatever (Daleks!?!?) are out to destroy such values. But here these values have been tested and it turns out the establishment has no respect for them, (unless one accepts these values are racially privileged, which is really not a great value at all) try and act surprised. Fig leaf bullshit to add to the weak justifications for murdering people in foreign lands, bingo?!?!! Where were the defenders of free speech when the case was not so popular, the issues a bit sticky and the defendants Muslims who rudely opposed the wars…many of the Teh Enlightenment fanboys support…ok answered it myself there. If these values are so easily discarded then they clearly did not really understand their implications or hold them sincerely. This is not a Fred Phelps level of idiocy, this was a jingoistic homecoming parade designed to increase support for the government’s wars through forcing peer pressure (again welcome to the reality of the function of military parades on genteel imperialists), that some publicly and offensively -to some- dissented should be something we accept. That we instead criminalised it tells the profound truth of wars of choice, they close down the societies that launch them, they push them rightwards into authoritarianism and if we don’t defend the difficult unpopular cases it will be the less controversial ones next.