Saturday, 26 June 2010

The One Law For All campaign blotted out by the propaganda model

Last Saturday, several hundred people marched on Downing Street as part of the "One Law For All" campaign, "to demand universal rights and secularism."

Members of Islamist sect al-Muhajiroun appeared as part of a counter demonstration, and there were also several people from the EDL hanging around. Yet I missed this. Despite the event being related to a media hot-button issue, and featuring an appearence from known media hate figures, it wasn't covered by the mainstream media.

The reason why soon became clear.

In the words of One Law for All Spokesperson, Maryam Namazie;
The fight against Sharia law is a fight against Islamism not Muslims, immigrants and people living under Sharia here or elsewhere. So it is very apt for the Islamists to hold a counter-demonstration against our rally. This is where the real battleground lies.

With a few members of the far Right English Defence League also there to showcase their bigotry, it became abundantly clear to everyone why our Campaign is fast becoming the banner carrier for universal rights, equality, and one secular law for all in this country and beyond.
In other words, the campaign is not born out of jingoism, reaction, or "patriotism," as the EDL is. There wasn't a national flag in sight, the issue being entirely religious.

That is why this event got little to no coverage. The media sells copy by building up a black-and-white version of this issue, all stereotypes and no substance. A protest by those who are neither with the bearded, freedom-hating extremists nor the flag-waving, quasi-racist nationalists simply doesn't fit the script.

But then, it's not meant to. In contrast to the EDL's crusader image and desire to "represent our culturally rich, “patriotic” and nation-loving populace," One Law For All ask only that "in a civil society, people must have full citizenship rights and equality under the law."

The EDL want to "highlight the danger of appeasing those who wish us harm, those who happily take from our welfare system, yet hate our country, our people and way of life." Removing the right-wing vitriol, One Law For All assert more calmly that "rights, justice, inclusion, equality and respect are for people, not beliefs."

There are problems with the One Law For All campaign, of course.

As an anarchist, I would wish that it were not so intently focused on action by the Government and changes to the law. It should recognise that appeals to authority and legislation don't resolve the underlying issues. I would also welcome a class perspective on religious law and authoritarianism.

However, the campaign addresses the core issues well. It articulates perfectly that the issue at hand is liberty, equality, and human rights. It is about "defending the rights of everyone irrespective of religion, race, nationality." Not patriotism and waving the flag.

This is a point worth remembering as the mainstream media ignores such campaigns and instead draws the battle lines between "extremists" and "patriots."