Document © 2010 Peter Marshall

my london diary index

September 2010

Around London
Protest over Initial Rentokil Union Busting
Families of Murder Victims Call For Justice
Protest Against Illegal Israeli Goods
Hizb ut-Tahrir Protest French Veil Ban
A Country Walk
Apprentice Boys London Parade
London Protests Against Pope
Motorcycle Protest & Westminster View
End Agrofuel Subsidies
EDL Protest Against MAC
Muslims Against Crusades Burn US Flag
EDL Remember 9/11
Kate Forbes & Brian Griffin
Al-Quds Day March & EDL Protest
End Domestic Flights


Stock photography by Peter+Marshall at Alamy

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All pictures Copyright © Peter Marshall 2010, all rights reserved.
Hight res images available for reproduction - for licences to reproduce images or buy prints or other questions and comments, contact me. Selected images are also available from Alamy and Photofusion

Around London

Saturday 25 Sept 2010

'I am Here', one of London's largest art installations overlooking the canal at Haggerston
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Walking and riding buses around London I took a number of photographs as I went from event to event. A picture on a bus in Knightsbridge, pictures of a vintage bus at Aldwych station, a boat in the Great River Race, a side street near Old Street, flats under redevelopment, some pictures by the canal including a large scale art project 'I Am Here', the Bridge Academy and the Suleymaniye Mosque at Haggerston. And then a couple of pictures from the No 243 as I travelled back to Waterloo.
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Protest Over Initial Rentokil Union Busting

Old St, London. Saturday 25 Sept 2010

A retired railway worker speaks at the protest calling for support for workmates

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RMT and other unions held a demonstration outside the Initial Rentokil Offices at Old St as the start of a campaign against the company's union-busting activities with cleaning staff. London, UK. 25/09/2010

Around 20 people from several trade unions came to a short demonstration outside the Initial Rentokil offices in Brunswick Place near Old Street on Saturday afternoon to mark the start of the campaign against the company for its anti-trade union activities.

The RMT (the National Union of Rail, Maritime and Transport Workers) is demanding that Initial Rentokil stop the intimidation and bullying of its members who choose to speak out about pay and employment practices and play an active role in the union. Around 20 people from several trade unions including RMT, Unison and Unite came to a short demonstration called at short notice outside the Initial Rentokil offices in Brusnwick Place near Old Street on Saturday afternoon.

The unions allege that the company deliberately employs workers whose immigration status is doubtful so that they can pay minimum wages and provide sub-standard working conditions, often requiring them to work without proper safety equipment or precautions. They allege that workers who question their rights or attempt to organise have been reported to the immigration authorities who have then raided the workplace.

According to multicultural on-line newspaper 'ThePrisma' the RMT have "an evidently supportive case" about "one active union member was removed from the workplace by authorities in order to set an example for the other members" and is collecting evidence about other cases.

ThePrisma quote RMT General Secretary Bob Crow as saying: "RMT is determined to shine a light on the tactics being used to try and control this group of workers that Londoners depend on... We will not tolerate a situation where the involvement of immigration authorities is used as a union-busting device"

Several of those attending the protest made speeches of solidarity with the cleaners and others affected by these activities, and the protesters loudly chanted "Hands off our workmates, No one is illegal" at the entrance to the offices.
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Families of Murder Victims Call For Justice

Embankment, London. Saturday 25 Sept 2010

'British Justice Protects the Guilty Lets Down the Victims' - family and friends of murder victim Danny Barber
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'Families Fighting For Justice', including many families of murder victims, marched through London on Saturday calling for tougher sentences for murder - with life sentences meaning life imprisonment.

Families Fighting For Justice (FFFJ) is a support group of victims' families, founded in Liverpool by Jean Taylor whose sister, son and daughter were all murder victims. She put an advert in the 'Liverpool Echo' asking other victim's families to join her and march to Downing St with a petition which said "Life should mean life, for first degree murder, also tougher sentences for manslaughter."

FFFJ have a support centre in Liverpool but also have members from around the country. Among those I talked to and photographed at the demonstration were a group from North Wales, another from Manchester and a campaigner from Essex.

Many of those on today's demonstration had t-shirts with the picture and name of a loved one, mainly teenagers and young people who had died after attacks on the street. There were also pictures of young children, including some whose horrendous stories have made the newspapers, such as 'Baby P'.

Some of the stories I heard were truly heartbreaking and showed why many ordinary people have lost faith in our justice system. Although I don't feel that the 'Life 4 A Life' campaign would actually do much if anything to solve the problem, clearly some action is called for, both in improving child protection by our social services (currently a subject of the Munro review - and having listened to and talked with Professor Eileen Munro on various occasions I greatly admire her approach) and also in how we regulate behaviour on our streets. Better policing is one part of this, but it really needs more than this, changes that bring back some of our community spirit and give people a greater engagement. Better justice is one part of that, though it doesn't necessarily mean more draconian sentences, which have little or no deterrent effect. But clearly we have a problem, and groups such as this certainly highlight it, as well as giving support to the families of victims.

Danny Barber, aged 24 was attacked by a gang of drunken youths as he walked home from the bus stop in Irlam, Manchester on 27 May 2009. They followed him for around 200 yards before setting on him opposite his home. His mother heard the noise and came out of the house but could not get to him to help him. They left him unconscious, with head and facial injuries. He never regained consciousness, and died 5 days later. Arrested, the five youths claimed in court that Danny had set upon them, and although their very minor injuries suggested otherwise - the ringleader had just a broken tooth and a few bruises - they received a total of 280 hours community service and probation. His mother writes about how the event has made her a different person, stared at and whispered about, "the woman whose son was beaten to death for fun."

Danny was described as "a lad who never hurt anybody or had a bad word to say about anyone" and as someone who "was loved by everyone who met him." A group of young men carried a banner reading 'British Justice - Protects the Guilty - Lets Down the Victims' and asked me to photograph them outside the nearby Royal Courts of Justice. On the back of their t-shirts was a picture of Danny with the message 'Justice Has Not Been Served - Shame on the British Judicial System.'

It is more than hard to see any justice in cases like this, and I heard many others as I took pictures and asked about the many faces on the t-shirts. You can read some of the other stories on the FFFJ web site.

Marching with FFFJ were several other groups including the Essex-based Anti-Knife UK. One of them marched as 'Knife-man' in a black suit, mask and hat, and a placard 'Anti-Knife Man says Life should mean Life' Anti-Knife's slogan is 'Respect Life ........Bin The Knife'.

The demonstration was smaller than expected, and fewer than on a previous march just before the election in May, and police insisted the several hundred people on it, together with their banners, kept to the pavement as they marched away and down Embankment on their way to Whitehall and a rally in Waterloo Place. I left them as they went under Waterloo Bridge to make my way to another event.
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Protest Against Illegal Israeli Goods

Ahava, Monmouth St, London. Saturday 25 Sept 2010

I was in Covent Garden during a quiet period of the demonstration

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Pro-Palestinian demonstrators held another of their fortnightly demonstrations outside the Covent Garden Ahava shop which sells products manufactured in an illegal Israel settlement on occupied Palestinian land. As on previous occasions their protest was met by a smaller counter-demonstration by supporters of the right-wing English Defence League (EDL) and Zionists.

While I was there, there were only a few EDL demonstrators present, along with a handful of Zionists, some in a pen together, others standing on the opposite pavement handing out leaflets. One of the two leaflets I was given, "produced by a counter-boycott group not associated with Ahava" described the call for a boycott as "bigoted, complicitly and politically antisemitic". The other, headed 'The Holocaust Began with Boycotts' had no indication at all of of who had produced it - and reading it I could understand why.

Last month Jonathan Hoffman, vice-chair of the Zionist Federation, had to issue an apology after describing a photograph taken showing him demonstrating with members of the EDL outside Ahava as "fraudulent"; he was not present on this occasion, but clearly the two groups were working together to oppose the boycott. After I had left the protest apparently became rather noisier after another dozen or so EDL supporters arrived.

Somewhat oddly one of the counter-blockade protesters was and waving a pole with a Portuguese flag above the Israeli flag - which has also been carried on EDL protests. On the pen there was a flag for the 'EDL Jewish Division' whose best-known member was taking part in the demonstration - perhaps the Portuguese flag is connected with her having been born in Brazil? The Jewish Division flag is a St George cross with ENGLAND in white large across its centre, a small Union Jack at its top left and a blue Star of David in its top right quadrant.

A few yards down the road, separated by police and in another pen were around 25 protesters calling for a boycott of Ahava, with another dozen or so handing out leaflets on the street. Among the groups supporting the boycott of Israeli goods, and especially those produced in the territories occupied following the 1967 war, are the Jewish group J-BIG, who declare that 'it's Kosher to Boycott Israeli Goods' along with the Palestine Solidarity Campaign and the Boycott Israeli Goods campaign. Some 180 Palestinian organisations have called for a campaign to boycott Israeli goods, for British companies and shareholders to withdraw investments and for our government to suspend all trade agreements, and for trade, military and travel sanctions.

The protesters calling for a boycott point out that Israel is in breach of international law and that the settlements are illegal. They say that Ahava "has openly flouted tax requirements by exploiting the EU-Israel trade agreement and violates UK DEFRA guidelines in respect of proper labelling." Their protest seemed to be getting a sympathetic hearing from many of those passing by.

The Ahava protests are part of an international 'Stolen Beauty' campaign organised by 'Code Pink', a women-initiated grass-roots peace and social justice movement which began when American women came together to oppose the invasion of Iraq.

I found no evidence of anti-Semitism in any of the leaflets that were being handed out by those calling for a boycott or later when I read the boycott web sites. Many of those involved in the campaign to boycott Israeli goods are themselves Jews. As I watched the protest I reflected on how things have changed. When I started photographing London no Jewish shop would have opened on a Saturday.
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Hizb ut-Tahrir Women Protest French Veil Ban

French Embassy, Knightsbridge, London. Saturday 25 Sept 2010

Around 80 women came to the demonstration, but very few had their faces covered by veils
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Around 80 Muslim women from Hizb ut-Tahrir Britain came with a letter to the French Ambassador and held a rally on the pavement outside the Knightsbridge Embassy today protesting the French parliament decision to ban Islamic face veils. London, UK.

The women, along with a number of young children, were directed by police to a narrow pen on the edge of the busy road, as the calm area in front of the embassy and the gate to Hyde Park is apparently private property.

The French decision, ratified by the Senate on September 14th, prohibits the wearing any kind of full-face covering in public places, including all government offices, hospitals, public transport and on the street. The law, which passed the Senate by 246 votes to 1, will not come into force for six months during which French constitutional judges will examine it. Although it prohibits all face coverings, it is mainly aimed at Muslim women who wear the niqab or burkha.

Few French Muslim women will be affected as they almost all only wear headscarves which are not affected by the ban. Outside of Paris and some cities on the Mediterranian coast full-face veils are rare and mainly worn by visitors; some estimates suggest that of France's 2-3 million Muslim women only around 2000 wear ssuch veils.

The women attending the demonstration made it clear that they did not feel oppresed or cut off from society by wearing a veil (although very few had chosen to do so for this event, with almost all wearing scaves that covered their hair but left their faces uncovered) and that if they wore one it was not because they were forced to do so by their husbands. The French law lays down a fine of 150 euros for wearing a veil, but several hundred times that for anyone forcing another person to wear one.

A steady stream of people walked past the demonstration including quite a few Muslim women, probably on their way to shops such as Harrods. A rather higher proportion of them were wearing burkhas, but perhaps surprisingly they all seemed to ignore the demonstration that was taking place.

There was a certain awkwardness in some of the slogans that the women chanted:

'While Sarcozy claims to liberate
Muslim women he subjugates.'
'We Muslim women will expose
the impotent values you try to impose'
'We reject your values, We accept Islma
You ban the niqab, We call for Islam.'
'Liberté, Egalité, Fraternité
Oppression , intolerance and hypocrisy.'

The placards seemed mainly to be directed against 'Liberal Values', making statements such as 'Liberal Values = Forced Assimilation' and 'Liberal Values Lose the Debate' and 'Muslim Women Reject Liberal Values'. Another, 'Tolerant Secularism Bans Veil'

Speakers at the event castigated the French government for taking a measure which they felt limited the freedom of women to make decisions on what they wear while at the same time ignoring issues that degrade and oppress women - such as domestic violence, and "the objectification and sexualisation of women's bodies in pornography, lap-dancing clubs, advertising, and the entertainment industry, all permitted under the premise of freedom of expression and driven by the pursuit of profit in Western societies."

While the failure of Western societies to deal with these social problems may be deplorable, it seems to me to have little real connection with the ban on wearing veils. France has a long tradition of upholding liberty and of maintaining religious freedom while opposing the power of clerics to limit the freedom of others. Maintaining a secular society doesn't conflict the the general right of anyone to practice their religion, although it may well involve banning certain manifestations of it. Being a liberal and secular society doesn't necessarily mean giving free rein to the exploitation of women or others for profit. We can oppose these without wanting to impose the kind of restrictions that groups such as Hizb Ut Tahrir advocate.
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A Country Walk

Wooburn, Bucks. Monday 20 Sept 2010
Wooburn Church
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Hardly a walk, just a few miles stroll around a fairly pleasant bit of not-quite countryside near Bourne End. I don't too often go outside the M25 to take pictures, and I really only went on this trip for the pub lunch at the end of it. And to drink a couple of pints of Rebellion beer, brewed at the Marlow brewery set up in 1991, just a few years after the town's Wethered brewery closed. Their Mutiny really is a very decent ale.
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Apprentice Boys London Parade

Whitehall, London. Sat 18 Sept 2010

City of Westminster Apprentice Boys of Derry Campsie Club

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The City of London branch of the Apprentice Boys of Derry held their annual Carson Memorial parade on Saturday, marching to lay wreaths at the Cenotaph in Whitehall.

It was not of course any Papish plot that led the the state visit by the Pope taking place at the same weekend as the Apprentice Boys of Derry London Campsie Branch Club Annual Parade, but simply coincidence. But it did lead to police forcing the Apprentice Boys to make an earlier than usual start so that they could lay their wreaths at the Cenotaph before the large protest march against the Pope's visit arrived in Whitehall.

So when I arrived at the rallying point well before the expected departure time I found it deserted, but was able to catch up with them as they began to lay wreaths at the Cenotaph, and then take pictures as they marched by the Houses of Parliament and turned back along the Embankment towards their starting point.

The Apprentice Boys, along with the other organisations taking part in the march are Ulster Protestants, dedicated to upholding the Protestant faith. Several standards were for the London Somme Association, celebrating the part played by Ulster regiments in the First World War, listing some ofthe battles in which they suffered heavy losses - Ypres, Arras, Cambrai, Thiepcal, Fricourt and more. But one of the flags was for the Protestant Action Force, a name used for the Ulster Volunteer Force, formed in 1966 and actively involved in the 'troubles' until it declared a ceasefire in 1994 - it only officially ending its armed campaign in 2007.

The Orange institutions in London, though presumably providing support of various kinds for allied groups in Ulster, have always been more about the social and cultural aspects of Unionism, and their marchers through London have never attracted the kind of controversy that exists in Northern Ireland..

Among those marching were loyalists from Scotland and Northern Ireland and bands from Corby and Liverpool.
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London Protests Against Papal State Visit

Piccadilly and Whitehall, London. Sat 18 Sept 2010
Around 10,000 lined up in Piccadilly to show their opposition to the State Visit by the Pope
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More than ten thousand marched through London in a protest against the state visit to Britain of the Pope, calling for his arrest for locking away evidence of child abuse by priests and for an end to religious bigotry.

The size of the march surprised the organisers, and it united many groups who are opposed to the religious fundamentalism of the Catholic church and to its interference in politics. The publicity given by the media to the Pope's visit appears to have considerably raised the volume of opposition to him and the church.

The march grew and grew as it went past Picadilly Circus and Trafalgar Square on its way to a rally in Whitehall, and once there it soon became apparent that the area the police had allocated for it would not be large enough. The rally moved a little further down the street where there is a wider area, and then covered the entire roadway for some distance to each side.

Speakers included those who the Pope might characterized as militant atheists, such as Terry Sanderson of the National Secular Society, Geoffrey Robertson QC, author of 'The Case Against The Pope' and Professor Richard Dawkins, but as many made clear, it was not a protest against religion as such, and certainly none of those present would want to ban Christmas. The protest was aimed at a particular person for his actions, in particular over trying to keep accusations of child abuse from the civil authorities - files of many cases are still locked away in the Vatican and the church refuses to hand them over, and trying to smooth over cases of abuse rather than investigate and bring those concerned to justice. It was also against a church organisation that meddles in politics at the highest level, pretending that the Vatican is a state (and even persuading the UN to treat it as such.) Of course it isn't really a country but an NGO and should be treated as such.

As a result of its undeserved influence in the UN, as well as the more direct influence of the Catholic Church in many countries around the world, millions have died unnecessarily of AIDs through its opposition to the use of condoms - as we were reminded by one speaker even by married couples one of whom is infected.

Unlike many other churches around the world, the Catholic Church remains an entirely male heirarchy, still insisting on male celibate priests - with predictable consequences. Among those marching were Catholic women calling for the church to ordain women - as have many other churches for many years - and also gay Catholic cleary, one of whom spoke of his work caring for aids victims in New York and London, for which he has been condemned by the Catholic church.

There were moving contributions from survivors of child abuse by Catholic priests, who told stories of how their abuse was covered up both by the church and even by their own mothers because of their allegiance to the church.

As Maryam Namazie reminded the crowd in a powerful address, it isn't just the Catholic church that imposes its religious laws on people, but other religions such as Islam. She reminded us of the excesses of the Iranian regime, and in particular of the use of Shariah law and the sentence of stoning still in use, particularly to keep women in a state of submission. Sakineh Ashtiani is still under sentence of death by stoning for her alleged adultery. It was a reminder that religious law denies human rights and equality and that we have to campaign to keep one secular law for all.

The speeches would have continued for longer but had to be cut short as the police insisted that the rally ended on time and that the public address system had to be turned off. Permission was needed as the area is still covered by ban on amplification in the area around parliament covered by SOCPA (the Serious Organised Crime and Police Act, 2005.)

Despite the considerable anger felt and expressed by many of those speaking against the failures of the Catholic church, this was not a dull and bitter event, but one with a considerable amount of humour, as can be seen in many of the placards I photographed. There were those too that exposed particular instances of child abuse as well as more general references to the sins of the church and the Pope in particular, and along with them a few more terse comments, including a large banner with the text in 3 foot high letters 'FxxK THE POPE' (it began with, in very small print, the words 'I WOULDN'T) and several other smaller banners and placards with a similar message, but the overall tone was that of a reasoned call for freedom (even of religion), equality and justice.

Perhaps what summed up the mood best was at its very end, when two of the women speakers came up to the microphone and gave us a specially adapted version of "What shall we do with the drunken sailor" with the suggestion that the Pope should be put in a condom.
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Motorcycle Parking Protest & Westminster View

Embankment, London. Wed 15 September 2010
Bikers on another protest ride hold a meeting under the tracks next to Embankment station
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Bikers are continuing their regular protest rides against the parking charges for motorbikes imposed by Westminster council, although this particular ride was on a much smaller scale than some previous ones.

From here I walked across the bridge to Waterloo, stopping to take a few pictures of the Houses of Parliament with flags blowing well in a strong wind, and the coloured lights of one of the moored vessels.
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End Agrofuel Subsidies

DECC, Whitehall Place, London. Wed 15 Sept 2010

Campaign Against Climate Change get ready to deliver 2 boxes of postcards to Chris Huhne

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Climate Change activists in London today highlighted the enormity of government subsidies for agrofuel production which harms the environment, displaces indigenous peoples and leads to food shortages.

Activists from the Campaign Against Climate Change came to the Whitehall office of the Department of Energy and Climate Change to present thousands of postcards to coalition Energy Secretary Chris Huhne. Later in the day they held a demonstration outside the DECC before a public meeting in the evening.

The group of demonstrators, including one 'orangutan' and a person holding a ''Chris Huhne' mask, highlighted the environmental devastation caused by the felling of tropical forests to grow agrofuel crops such as palm oil - now the largest cause of deforestation in South East Asia - and deforestation is responsible for as much as 20% of global carbon emissions. In many areas palm oil growers are grabbing land from indigenous tribes and destroying their communities. Human rights are being abused on a grand scale and the growth of agrofuel production has the effect of reducing food production, leading to higher food prices, pricing food out of the reach of many poor people around the world.

Shocking though the results of agrofuel production are, even more shameful is that it is being subsidised by our government and in particular by every one of us who pays a gas or electricity bill. Unless you buy energy from a company producing a minimum of 10% from renewable sources (and none of the major suppliers do) your bill includes a surcharge for renewable energy. The energy companies are obliged to pay for 'Renewable Obligation Certificates' (ROCs) and currently agrofuel using energy producers benefit enormously from these - at twice the level of on-shore wind energy. This scandal arose from a mistaken view that agrofuels were a green energy source, and it should be ended without delay.

The Campaign Against Climate Change is particularly concerned with the activities of the power company W4B which had an application for an agrofuel powerstation at Portland approved on appeal after an initial objection was overturned in January 2010. This palm oil burning station will result in an extra one third the amount of palm oil being imported to the UK for energy production - and W4B propose to build an even larger plant in Bristol.

Campaign Against Climate Change, along with Biofuel Watch, Food not Fuel and No Oil Palm Energy (NOPE), are organising a 'National Demonstration Against Agrofuels' at Portland, Dorset on Saturday 25 September (with a coach leaving from London.) They are calling for an end of all subsidies for agrofuel energy production and a stop to the use of agrofuels in the energy industry.
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EDL Protest Against MAC

US Embassy, Grosvenor Square, London. 11 Sept 2010

EDL supporters shouted and made gestures at the press as well as the Muslims

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During the Muslims Agains Crusades demonstration outside the US Embassy, several counter-demonstrators from the EDL had tried to approach the MAC protesters, and at one point a beer can was thrown into the centre of the demonstration from the adjoining gardens. Police took several of the EDL away and cleared the area.

Later a group of 50-100 EDL supporters were penned by the police at the opposite end of the roadway in front of the US Embassy, and I went and photographed their protest. The atmosphere was much more angry than in the morning, and at times there were threats made against the press as well as the MAC.

At one point the EDL managed to push down some of the single line of barriers and started to push past the thin line of police, but they were soon held, with both police and EDL stewards holding them back. The police then reformed with a fresh line of barriers across their path and the EDL stewards formed a line to hold back the relatively small number who were trying to break through.

When I left the area an hour or so after the flag burning, police seemed very muchi n control, holding the EDL back while the MAC protest was continuing.
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Muslims Against Crusades Burn US Flag

US Embassy, Grosvenor Square, London. 11 Sept 2010

Lighter fuel helps the flames as the US flag and Pastor Terry Jones photo burn

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Around a hundred extremist Muslims from Muslims Against the Crusades, led by Anjem Choudary held a protest against the threatended burning of the Qur'an burnt a US Flag outside the US Embassy.

As a response to Florida pastor Terry Jones's threat to burn the Qur'an on the anniversary of 9/11, Muslims Against Crusades called for the day to be made 'International Burn The American Flag Day' and for groups around the world to burn the US flag, which they see as a symbol of unbelief and of war - military, ideological, social and economic - against the Muslim religion.

Muslims Against the Crusades (MAC) is widely seen as a successor to Islam4UK, banned in January 2010 and itself regarded, along with Ahl ul-Sunnah Wa al-Jamma (ASWJ) as a thinly veiled reincarnation of the previously banned al-Muhajiroun. Anjem Choudary, a UK born former solicitor was one of this organisation's founders, and a leader of Islam4UK, ASWJ and MAC.

Several of those speaking outside the embassy, including Choudary, expressed praise fot the 9/11 terrorists, seeing them as on the side of truth, the Shari'ah and God against the forces of falsehood, man made laws secularism and liberal democracy.

On one of their web sites they say "It is the wish of the Americans and their allies to extinguish the light of Allah but Allah has promised victory to the Muslims and Islam will dominate." They call for the defeat of other religions and democracy and the establishment in this country and across the world of Shari'ah.

Only a minute number of Muslims in the UK share these ideas, which are repudiated by the mainstream Muslim community. Some accuse the MAC and similar groups as being funded by the CIA or right-wing groups to stoke up Islamophobia. It was demonstrations by these small extremist groups ( provoked the setting up of the English Defence League following their demonstration against a military parade in Luton.

After some speeches by several including Anjem Choudry, a large US flag was produced and spread out on the pavement before being doused with lighter fuel and lit. As it burned, a second smaller US flag and a portrait of pastor Terry Jones, and finally an Union Jack was added to the bonfire.

During this protest, a group of EDL supporters arrived and were held by police around a hundred yards away - see story above.
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EDL Remember 9/11

Grosvenor Square & Saudi Embassy, London. 11 Sept 2010

EDL Flag with 'Taliban Hunting Club' symbol
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Over 150 English Defence League members marched to pay their respects to those killed on 9/11 at the Grosvenor Square memorial, going on for a brief stop at the American Embassy before going on to protest at the Saudi Embassy.

The English Defence League (EDL) gathered at the 'Hog in the Pound' next to Bond Street station and were met by a group of press photographers. This time there were no problems as a number of the marchers posed to have their pictures taken.

Eventually the EDL set off to march the short distance to Grosvenor Square Gardens, with one woman member carrying a large wreath to lay there, with the message 'Victims of 9/11. We deeply regret the loss on that sad day. English Defence League.' A little way behind in the crowd was another woman carrying the EDL Dudley Division wreath, with its message 'Never Forget & Never Surrender.'

As the march came into Grosvenor Square, the marchers became silent, forming up into a row facing the memorial with their banners while the wreaths were being laid. They then observed a two minute silence before marching away to the US Embassy. There photographers mingled with the marchers, taking more photographs and talking to the marchers.

From the US Embassy the marchers went to the Saudi Embassy for a more vocal protest over the terrorist atrocity in New York and Islamic extremism more widely. At first the police took them to a pound in Charles St, opposite the back door of the Embassy, but after some discussion were persuaded to let them demonstrate opposite the front of the embassy in Curzon St.

In both places several people set fire to black A4 sheets with white Islamic text which apparently included the name of Allah. There were also a number of clearly Islamophobic chants, including a blasphemous declaration of pedophilia.

The pack of press photographers soon decided to make their way back to the US Embassy to cover the protest expected there by Muslims Against the Crusades. As we left the Saudi Embassy, the police were starting to lead the EDL away in the direction of Green Park Station.
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Kate Forbes & Brian Griffin

National Portrait Gallery & The Horse Hospital. 10 Sept 2010

‘Fake Food & Fast Cars: The Pop Couture of Kate Forbes‘, on show at the Horse Hospital
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Brian Griffin talked about making some of his pictures for the NPG's London Olympics project - The Road to 2012 - during the late night opening there. Afterwards I went with Brian to an opening at the Horse Hospital in Bloomsbury of a show of costumes by film designer Kate Forbes, who is working with Brian on his latest project, 'The Black Country' which opens in Paris in November. More about these events on >Re:PHOTO, which also links to everything concerned.
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Al-Quds Day March & EDL Protest

Marble Arch to Grosvenor Square, London. 4 Sept 2010

A woman argues with the Neterei Karta Jews before the march starts at Marble Arch
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The annual Al-Quds (Jerusalem) Day march in London organised by the Islamic Human Rights Commission (IHRC) attracted counter-protests by the English Defence League and the Iranian democratic opposition Green Movement.

Around two thousand people, mainly Muslims, gathered at Marble Arch for the start of the annual march and rally. Among them were a group of ultra-orthodox anti-zionist Neturei Karta jews who had walked from Stoke Newington to take part in the event, and some small left-wing groups.

Al-Quds day was initiated by the late Imam Khomeini of Iran as last Friday of Ramadan, as an expression of solidarity with the Palestinian people and of opposition to the Israeli control of Jerusalem, as well as more widely "a day for the oppressed to rise and stand up against the arrogant."

The IHRC, founded and based in London in 1989, follows the Qur'anic injunctions on Muslims struggle in defence of the oppressed, and carries out campaigns and research on the media, war crimes, discrimination and general human rights. Critics, mainly from right wing and pro-Israel groups, accuse it of being sponsored by and promoting the Iranian regime and right-wing fundamentalist Islam. And although many on the left applaud much of its research and campaigning work - including its support for the Palestinian cause, other aspects have made many organisations reluctant to associate themselves with it.

Before the march started, police had directed and escorted most of the counter-protesters from the EDL and the Iranian Green movement to pens close to the Hilton Hotel in Park Lane, where the march was to turn round and make its way back on the opposite carriageway and on to the US Embassy in Grosvenor Square for a rally.

A small group of EDL protesters were being held by police in a bus shelter at the top of Park Lane as the march began, and were not being allowed to make an effective protest there. Another dozen or so appeared later on the grassed area between the two carriageways and shouted offensively islamophobic comments, but the IHRC stewards, aided by police, managed to hold some of the more angry younger marchers back while police urged the EDL to move ahead to the area provided for their protest.

Police prevented the press from crossing the road and getting close to the Iranian Green protesters and the EDL, and police in front of these groups and along the side of the march prevented them getting closer. Although there was considerable abuse across the road, there was only one minor incident, when a rather full beer can came flying across the road from the EDL pen. Although I was sprayed by a few drops, fortunately nobody was actually hit by the can, and it wasn't clear whether it had been aimed as the press photographers or the marchers.

A few days before the march, a posting with the title 'After Bradford a new (non violent) FATWA is issued on Left wing muppet Journos' appeared on an EDL blog which included the warning "left wing journos being let in is a threat to public order and we cant guarantee their safety" and that they would tell the police that at all future liason meetings. It did appear that rather than the police reminding the EDL they should obey the law they had gone along with that threat.

Later a few of the EDL protesters turned up in the gardens at Grosvenor Square, and then moved to the street where they were stopped by a line of police. A number of them came to shout insults and threats at the photographers, although there were also a few who came and talked reasonably.

It is really very simple: if any group wants to get fair treatment by the press, all they need to do is to behave in a reasonable manner. Photographers in particular don't make things up, but photograph what is there.
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End Domestic Flights

London City Airport (& Manchester.) 4 Sept 2010

John Stewart, Phil Thornhill & Darrend Johnson with the plane at London City Airport
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Environmental protesters campaigned for a ban on domestic flights with a protest that started at London City Airport before taking a bus and train to continue at Manchester Airport.

Aviation continues to be the fastest growing source of greenhouse gases in the UK, and the protest was designed to stress that there are alternatives to domestic flights - including the 38 daily between London and Manchester.

Getting to London City Airport proved a problem for some, with several key underground lines and the eastern section of the DLR closed for maintenance. Fortunately the organisers, the Campaign Against Climate Change, had hired an open-top bus for the protest and it brought some of us from the nearest open station to the airport, where others, including some from the local campaigning group against its expansion, Fight the Flights, were waiting for us.

Speakers at the protest outside the airport entrance included Phil Thornhill, the co-ordinator of the Campaign against Climate Change, Anne-Marie Griffin, chair of Fight the Flights, John Stewart, Chair of AirportWatch and HACAN, Darren Johnson, Green Party GLA member, Murad Qureshi, Labour GLA member and Josh from Plane Stupid.

Speakers stressed the threat caused by greenhouse gases to global climate and the need for a ban on domestic flights as an unnecessary contribution to climate change. These flights are wasteful and often slower than less polluting rail or even road travel. Climate change is already impacting disproportionately on poor people in poorer countries, and one banner read 'Polluting the Poor For Profit.'

Airport expansion also threatens peoples' homes and blights local communities with noise and environmental pollution. London City Airport was granted planning permission on the basis it would only have a small number of flights by low-noise turbo-prop planes designed for short take-off and landing. They now plan to increase the number of flights to 176,000 a year and are using much noisier jet aircraft for over 90% of flights.

At the end of the meeting at London City Airport, many of the protesters boarded the open-top bus for a tour through London to catch the train from Euston to Manchester Airport. As the bus passed through busy streets, shoppers and tourists were treated to a mermaid and a man with a megaphone, joined by a bus-load of people chanting for 'Trains Not Planes' and a ban on domestic flights. I travelled with them on the top of the bus to Euston, but left there to photograph another event.
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