Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Demonstrations you may have missed

With all those stories of endless demonstrations up and down the world about the Danish cartoons – it seems in Pakistan they have been reduced to dragging the children out – even when it is clear that these were absolutely minute, you would think our media would pick up on a few other recent events of that kind.

Not so but far from it. Did anybody see any mention of the pro-Danish reports a curious story of Dominic de Villepin being booed and pushed out of the crowd. According to their account, which was published in various newspapers:

“With punches and boos, a crowd ejected right-wing politician Philippe de Villiers from the march. De Villiers' Movement for France blames immigration for France's social ills -- like the extreme-right National Front which was banned by the organizers from the demonstration.”

Odd. It was Sarkozy who called the rioters of last autumn scum, not Villepin, yet nobody bothered to boo, hiss or punch him. Perhaps, they did not like Villpein’s poetry. “Tear him for his bad verses.”, as the mob shouted in Julius Caesar.

Halimi’s murder was not the first one of a Jew by a Muslim immigrant, in this case a gang led by someone from Côte d’Ivoire, where he has been arrested, pending extradition. But it is this one that has caught the people’s imagination and made them feel particularly disgusted by the growing anti-Semitism and ever more violent attacks. In years to come we might, just might, refer to the Halimi case as being the equal of the Dreyfus case in importance.

Interestingly, there was no mention of any official Muslim organization joining the march, though they would have been welcomed with open arms. These guys need to sack their PR firm. Did it not occur to them that they needed to be there at the head of the march to show their credentials?

They cannot rely indefinitely on the pusillanimity of political leaders. Sometimes a gentle nudge towards good publicity is needed.

Then there was a demonstration in Madrid. Heard nothing about that either. This one was protesting against negotiations with ETA, mooted by Prime Minister Zapatero. There are, once again, wide differences in the figures given:

“The demonstration was organised by the Association for the Victims of Terrorism, who said it was supported by 1,400,000 people. The regional government of Madrid put it at 110,000 people.”

But again, even at the lowest figure, it is impressive. A good deal more impressive than the few hundred in Lahore or even a thousand in other places. Why were we not told about it? Could it be because people demonstrating against terrorism are not news? And while we are on the subject of demonstrations, here is one I have found on the news just now:

“Hundreds of people in an ethnic Arab neighbourhood of the south-western city of Ahwaz staged an anti-government demonstration hours after three explosions in Khuzistan Province on Monday morning, according to local residents.”

Now, can the BBC prove that this demonstration was really anti-American and about the Danish cartoons?


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