Thursday, February 09, 2006

Out on a limb

This was originally going to be a spoof post but it's turned into something else.

Right, have a look at those banners at the London demonstrations last Friday. They were, as has already been noted, obviously all made by one person or a small number of people.

On Monday, Charlie said:
The incident illustrates the merits of having all the necessary legislation on the statute book, which includes the offences created by the Terrorism Bill, including the proposed new offences of encouragement and glorification of terrorism, which I hope will now have the support of the whole House.
The House of Lords voted against the government's proposal to outlaw glorifying terrorism last month. This will come back to the Commons next Wednesday when the government hopes to overturn the decision of the Lords. The "incident" will certainly be repeatedly raised by government supporters in the debate.

What happens if you apply the "who gains?" principle to those banners?

As I said, this was originally going to be a spoof post. I even wrote one after reading the BBC's summary of the legal position. That analysis suggests that there are already laws in place which could be used to charge the protesters if the prosecuting authorities believe it is in the public interest. Any new legislation would presumably have the same condition attached and would, therefore, be pointless. It was the final couple of sentences which set me off on my spoofery.
Mindful of the effect of such acts on the impressionable, the government wants to introduce an offence of indirect incitement of terrorist acts. The vehemence of the anti-cartoons protests might have made the task of persuading its critics a little easier.

Marginally amusing (in a way which definitely borders on bad taste), I thought. Agents provocateurs and so on. Infamy, infamy, they've all got it infamy. The really disturbing thing was, after I'd written it, I started to wonder whether it might not actually be true.

Let's make some things clear though. There is no doubt that there are extremist Muslims in this country who support the sentiments expressed by the banners. I am not in any way attempting to deny this fact. There is no doubt that those who attended the protest were holding those banners of their own free will. I am not in any way attempting to deny this fact either. It is, in fact, highly probable that all of these banners were written by a Muslim extremist attempting to inflame the situation.

But there is another possibility and, after reflecting on this for a couple of days, I just can't resist pointing it out. It is now known that the British government extensively used spies, double agents and agents provocateurs when dealing with the IRA and other Northern Irish terrorist groups. The secret nature of these activities is such that it's almost impossible to know about them at the time they occur. But this stuff does happen. (Btw, who was that amazing vanishing man? I wonder about him.)

The protests on Friday were, presumably, organised by a group of Muslim extremists. The idea that the security services would infiltrate such a group is anything but far fetched. It's part of what they do.

The government does, I think, genuinely believe that their glorifying terrorism nonsense is essential for the protection of this country. They're wrong, but they are probably sincere in their belief.

In these circumstances, it is not inconceivable that an agent provocateur, acting on orders from the government, was responsible for suggesting that banners such as those displayed be used at the protests. As the man from Auntie said, "the vehemence of the anti-cartoons protests might have made the task of persuading its [the government's] critics a little easier".

This might appear to be far-fetched. I'm certainly not claiming that this is definitely what happened. All I'm saying is, I don't think the possibility can be entirely ruled out. This government? Hardly known for their honesty and integrity, are they?

Now, where's my shiny protective headgear?

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