Lift The Ban

A Burning PoppyTomorrow is a very special day for people all around the world. It is the annual Armistice Day, the day we remember all those who made the ultimate sacrifice for their country. At the eleventh hour, on the eleventh day, of the eleventh month, there will be a two minute silence in their honour. Wearing a Poppy emblem to symbolise your respect is a very British tradition, but the emblem itself has become a universally recognised symbol of remembrance.

Recently I wrote of my indignation at FIFA for their refusal to permit the England and Wales football teams to wear Poppy emblems on their shirts in the upcoming friendly matches. Happily that decision has been modified, meaning that the players will be allowed to wear black arm bands sporting Poppies during the game.

So I applaud FIFA for their change of heart, and congratulate the Government and Prince William for the pressure they exerted to cause that change. I feel the right of free speech and expression of opinion is a very basic right, something for which our mothers, fathers grandmothers and grandfathers fought and died.

Today, Theresa May, the Home Secretary, has banned an organisation now known as Muslins Against Crusades in order to stop them repeating their protest of last year, where they burned Poppies at a public gathering in central London. Her reasons for the ban being that they aim to glorify terrorism.

Whilst I abhor the idea of people burning Poppies and am completely against acts of terrorism, I am also against the banning of such groups, for the following reasons. Firstly, if we hold the right to free speech in such high esteem, it must be free speech for all, not just the chosen few. Secondly, it has been shown, over and over again, that prohibition of anything simply does not work. Look at the prohibition of alcohol in the US in the 1920’s and 30’s which funded the gangster era of Al Capone and his peers. The banning of drugs in the UK has led to a hugely lucrative black economy involving crime and violence. There doesn’t appear to be a single example to support prohibition.

So I say let these people gather outside the Albert Hall. Let them chant their slogans, wave their placards expounding hatred and violence, even let them burn Poppies if they will. Doing so will perfectly demonstrate how out of touch they are with the vast majority of British Muslims, and how mindless is their cause. And if, as is likely, the pantomime causes some public disorder, arrest them and charge them with that offence. Let us never give these people the power, or the publicity to further their cause. By allowing them to demonstrate out in the open, we give them the perfect opportunity to show themselves for what they really are.

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