Glasgow City Council and Strathclyde Police have said that permission would not be granted to the Scottish Defence League to protest.
The news came at the public meeting organised by SIF on Wednesday. On behalf of GCC, Baillie Hanzala Malik said that the council could not act solely on this, but could refuse permission if police lodged an objection. Inspector Brian Gibson of Strathclyde Police who was also present said that the police would have objections based on the racial and religious hatred implications of the protest.
Both are undoubtedly to be congratulated for this position. It does not however make the issue go away, given the likelihood of illegal protests taking place regardless.
The meeting had a lively debate on the merits of counter-actions should an SDL/EDL protest go ahead. Some had the view that taking action would give the EDL the oxygen of publicity and could turn ugly. Muslims should instead place reliance in God. I wrote some of the opposing view to that before the meeting, but other speakers added that the spectacle of Scotland not doing anything would be shameful and would only embolden the fascists to build larger in the future. The far-right had to be nipped in the bud now, albeit peacefully.
Other ideas and points raised included:
- Having a pipeband there
- Ensuring that MPs and MSPs were leading a counter-protest and carrying banners
- Mosques should make a special effort to be open and welcoming to the public around this time
- Is sufficiently robust legislation in place to deal with religious hatred?
- Will the police remove the SDL from outside mosques if they arrive there?
Organisations represented at the meeting included the Scottish-Islamic Foundation, Unite Against Fascism, Stop the War Coalition, Muslim Council of Scotland, Strathclyde Police and Glasgow City Council. Human rights lawyer and veteran anti-racism campaigner Aamer Anwar also spoke, while the STUC sent their apologies due to the sad death of former General Secretary Bill Speirs that day. He was a man who did much to defend minorities from persecution and discrimination.
Posted by Osama Saeed