An Important Stand For Free Expression - London rally 17 Feb 2012
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One Law for All held a successful rally in defence of free expression on Saturday 11 February 2012 opposite the Houses of Parliament. Hundreds braved the cold weather to join the rally at Old Palace Yard.
The rally followed several incidents in London recently where freedom of expression was curtailed in favour of fear of causing offence. In one incident, a talk on sharia law by One Law for All’s Anne Marie Waters was cancelled following threats of violence. Rhys Morgan was told by his school to remove a picture of Jesus and Mo from his Facebook page – a picture he had used in solidarity with the University College London Atheist, Secularist and Humanist Society who had been asked by their student union to remove the same image. Both UCL and the London School of Economics have since passed draconian motions which will further restrict religious criticism or satire at their schools.
Speakers at the rally included A C Grayling, Nick Cohen, Caroline Cox, Gita Sahgal, Keith Porteous Wood, and Rhys Morgan.
The event was sponsored by the Richard Dawkins Foundation for Reason and Science UK and featured Richard Dawkins who told the crowd to ‘stop being so damn respectful’ and that without freedom of speech, society would be a ‘scientific, technological, moral dark age’.
Maryam Namazie of One Law for All closed the rally by remembering those, around the world, who are fighting for freedom of expression, often at cost of their lives.
You can listen to a podcast of the London rally here: http://poddelusion.co.uk/blog/2012/02/11/rally-to-defend-free-expression-11th-february-2012/ and see videos of the event here: http://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PL324F7E92CC808428&feature=view_all. See some photos from the rally here: http://www.onelawforall.org.uk/11-february-2012-an-important-stand-for-free-expression/.
Actions to mark the occassion were also held in other cities, including Germany, Portugal and South Africa. Some highlights included a solidarity rally in Warsaw, Poland: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oqRBW7zGflk&fb_source=message, a fundraising dinner for One Law for All in Melbourne, Australia and the start of a campaign by Women's Initiative for Citizenship and Universal Rights in France to denounce discrimination faced by women due to the application of unfair laws in France.
The Free Expression Day of Action was endorsed by hundreds of people and organisations: http://www.onelawforall.org.uk/endorsements-for-11-february-day-of-action-for-free-expression/.
As a follow up to the day, One Law for All has initiated a campaign in defence of 23 year old writer, Hamza Kashgari, who faces execution in Saudi Arabia for tweeting about Mohammad, Islam's prophet. To support the campaign, click here: http://www.onelawforall.org.uk/freedom-for-saudi-writer-hamza-kashgari/.
1. Also see a joint letter to Human Rights Watch on the importance of secularism: http://www.onelawforall.org.uk/to-human-rights-watch-separation-of-religion-from-state-is-the-most-basic-guarantee-of-rights/.
2. To donate to the work of One Law for All, please either send a cheque made payable to One Law for All to BM Box 2387, London WC1N 3XX, UK or pay via Paypal: http://www.onelawforall.org.uk/donate/. We need regular support and also for supporters to commit to giving at least £5-10 a month via direct debit. You can find out more about how to join the 100Club here: http://www.onelawforall.org.uk/donate/.
3. If you shop online, please do so via the Easy Fundraising website: http://www.easyfundraising.org.uk/register-supporter/?char=40474. It won’t cost you anything extra but can help raise much needed funds for One Law for All.
(One Law For All - Maryam Namazie)
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