Saturday 25 Sept 2010
'I am Here', one of London's largest art installations
overlooking the canal at Haggerston
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.
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
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
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.
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
'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
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
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
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
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
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
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.
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
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.
A Country Walk
Wooburn, Bucks. Monday 20 Sept 2010
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.
Apprentice Boys London Parade
Whitehall, London. Sat 18 Sept 2010
City of Westminster Apprentice Boys of Derry Campsie Club
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
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
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.
London Protests Against Papal State Visit
Piccadilly and Whitehall, London. Sat 18 Sept 2010
10,000 lined up in Piccadilly to show their opposition to the State Visit
by the Pope
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
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
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
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.
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
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.
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
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
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.
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
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
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.
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
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
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.
EDL Remember 9/11
Grosvenor Square & Saudi Embassy, London. 11 Sept 2010
EDL Flag with 'Taliban Hunting Club' symbol
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
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
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.
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
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.
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
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
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.
End Domestic Flights
London City Airport (& Manchester.) 4 Sept 2010
John Stewart, Phil Thornhill & Darrend Johnson with
the plane at London City Airport
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
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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