Amid all the mutual back-slapping across the far right at their holding an event claiming to be a Day For Freedom yesterday, one name has been conspicuously absent, even though he was on the list of speakers. That name is Ali Dawah, and what happened to him and his pal Mohammad Hijab shows just how much the event was about free speech, and now much it was about being an ego trip for the likes of Stephen Yaxley Lennon.
Lennon, who styles himself Tommy Robinson, was happy to share a platform with an array of unappealing no-marks, including Raheem “call me Ray” Kassam of Breitbart, and paedophilia apologist Milo Yiannopoulos, but when it came to letting a Scary Muslim (tm) into the party, the happiness evaporated and Ali Dawah was barred from speaking.
This was despite his having an invite: organiser Lucy Brown Tweeted “CONFIRMED: @AliDawah will be speaking tomorrow at Day For Freedom” the day before. But having turned up, he was stopped from speaking, seemingly on Lennon’s say so. Lennon then sneeringly abused him from the stage. Real class act.
Ali Dawah told his followers “MY FREEDOM OF SPEECH GOT STOPPED AT A FREEDOM OF SPEECH EVENT & WE GOT ATTACKED. Oh the irony”, before adding “Not only that I was booked to speak at 3:10. Banned for speaking at a Freedom of speech event. You can’t make this up”, and concluding “I thought they will defend to death my right to freedom of speech, but instead they where fighting us to death to stop my freedom of speech”. He and his pal were set upon by the Wall Of Gammon (tm) in the crowd.
Another follower of The Prophet told him “I know you meant well Ali and you decided to go with true intentions. But This day wasn't anything to do with freedom of speech. It was about their freedom to insult and stoke troubles. You guys come out of it better then their lot did but everyone knew you wouldn’t get speaking time”.
Thanks to Jo Phillips for the photos
That much is disappointing but predictable: what was truly disturbing, and shows exactly what yesterday’s gathering was about, was the physical intimidation and violent assault handed out by members of the aforesaid Wall Of Gammon (tm).
As the photos here show, Mohammad Hijab was confronted by a grey-haired man who appeared to be bellowing incoherently at him. This was followed by full-on assault featuring one man wearing shades, and another with a shaved head. Both were wearing navy blue coloured shirts. Both are deliberately aiming blows at Mohammad Hijab. There is a clear attempt to hold him back in order to deliver more blows to his body.
Perhaps the assault was fuelled by a combination of warm weather and excess consumption of falling-over water, but this is no excuse for what happened. It is also the inevitable result of so many people being told over and over that Muslims are “the other”, that they are “invaders”, that they are “taking over”, and worse.
We know that Stephen Lennon will wash his hands of this incident, and any others like it. He, it will be said, is only telling it like it is, and not encouraging violence. But this kind of behaviour does not just happen. I’ll just leave that one there.