Well as I expected I had some mixed feelings about the anti-fascist demonstration that I took part in yesterday in Glasgow.
On the positive side the day appears to have ended as a more or less shambles for the Scottish Defence League - the group which had attempted to organise an "anti- jihadist" rally outside the Glasgow Mosque.
As I said in my previous post if I could believe that they were simply out to protest against Islamic fundamentalism then I would have a great deal of smpathy with them. The problem is that even if one believes that the founders and organisers of this group aren't looking to create a more Islamophobic agenda then at minumum the group certainly suffers from attracting out and out fascists and racists to its rallies.
One of the speakers (I believe it was Aamer Anwar) at the Anti -fascist rally made the point that if people have criticism of the Muslim community over the issue of terrorism or extremism then they should engage the Muslim community in debate and not seek to come out onto the streets and rally outside their Mosques to provoke them.
That is a sentiment that I wholly agree with. I have personally been very critical of Muslim thinking over recent years and the failure for a long time to take on fundamentalists. Its an entirely different thing though for people to take an issue like that to the streets. Its even more unacceptable when the clear intent is simply to provoke trouble.
I am sure Mr Anwar applies this same logic to extremists within his own community. I do wonder though as this is the same guy who, after the attempted terrorist bombing at Glasgow airport, made the disgraceful statement that ""A Stealth bomber in Iraq is the moral equivalent of a suicide bomber in Scotland". Hmm ....
The attempt by the SDL to organise a rally ended in abject failure anyway as the police used the Public Order Act to ensure that they would not rally outside the mosque. In the event a fairly small group appear to have met in a pub in the centre of Glasgow from where they were eventually bundled onto buses and shipped out of the city.
The turn out for the anti-fascism rally called by Scotland United was good given that the weather was awful on Saturday. The crowd really needed their umbrellas and waterproofs as they stood and listened to speakers from all the main political parties before the march began.
The presence of politicians from all the main parties was one of the most encouraging aspects of the event. When Annabelle Gouldie from the Scottish Conservatives took the stage there was a ripple of mumbling among what was a fairly partisan crowd. But she spoke forceably and the crowd showed their approval even for her as she finished her speech.
There were of course the usual political plonkers that these sort of events attract - not least in this case Tommy "Party Boy" Sheridan who readers of this blog will know has had lets say an "interesting" relationship with the Scottish Courts in recent years
Almost all the speakers stuck to the agenda for the day which was about rallying against Fascists and Rascists. Unfortunately Aamer Anwar, and Osama Saeed both tried to include Anti-war rhetoric in their speeches which I felt was uncalled for as by no means everyone who wants to protest about fascists agrees with their views on this.
One of them ( I believe it was Saeed) tried to suggest that Muslims were "being killed all round the world" and that Muslim extremism was entirely due to this. While this played well with a sizeable proportion of the crowd that does not of course mean that there his any logic in this assertion. Muslim extremeism was building in this country long before the war in Iraq or Afghanistan and most Muslim deaths around the world are clearly the result of Muslim on Muslim violence.
This is of course one of the perils of attending these types of events, there is a great deal of simplistic sloganising and it's difficult to distance yourself when the organisers of something that you basically support start spouting this kind of nonsense. Still in the greater cause of showing support for the anti-fascist cause I was prepared to stand and listen to such tosh - this time.
I have some photos from the rally which I'll add in here later.