So today I went out to protest against people protesting about people building a mosque. Lincoln's first purpose built center for worship for Muslims - yay diversity! Right?
Well the Right didn't seem to think so, speaking about how Muslims "want to take over the world" (No. Really) .... I've just got in and have been looking at the EAP facebook page again one minute they're talking about Freedom of Speech and the next they're saying "Any that write on here who don't approve are just deleted..." it's now impossible for me to comment there either because I've been banned or because they've stopped allowing comments from people who disapprove. (I've checked, they've banned me. Oh well)
There were people involved in the counter protest who seemed quite eager for violence, but I believe they realised that the rest of us weren't there for that, so proceedings remained peaceful. Now, here's why I was there:
I often say I don't like religion, that it's just another line we divide our selves by - and there's plenty of division in the world without it. But I am firmly against taking away choice. Most Muslims are normal people like you or me, some of them are wonderful people and some of them are utter idiots - just like any other group. They have every right to a place of worship in their city.
Some of these people protesting against this mosque seem to believe that Mosques are places where young Muslims get radicalised - but to successfully turn a person against the community they live, work and were born into you first have to make them feel like they are separate from them.
Ostracising young people (any people, but young people especially) of any background or subculture is going to make them bitter towards the larger community. Makeing someone feel downtrodden or repressed is going to make that person want to fight back against their oppressors.
It is for those reasons I, and other members of the Lincoln community, stood against the EAP - not to prove anything to them, or to persuade them of anything, but to show the Muslims in our community that they are part of our community. That we value and respect them as neighbors, friends and countrymen.
Here's a video of the two protests. Personally I preferred "EDL: off our streets." No need for too much name calling, but hey ho.... the other side were much worse in their chanting.
One thing I will say, is that we were clearly the more diverse group. Different races, sub cultures and generations came together to say "Bugger off" to these people.
Oh - and the police did a fantastic job, there were some lovely officers out who were just generally friendly and polite in their requests.
I'll upload some pictures when I have them!