It really doesn't come as a surprise that George Galloway has come down on the side of being offended and opposing free speech. He will (quite rarely) grace Bradford with his presence tomorrow evening to join a protest rally under the banner of 'Our Prophet Our Honour'. This event - organised by David Humphreys, George's vicar on Earth - is explicitly against free speech and George is right there:
“While he totally condemns the killings, there is a feeling in the community that there are problems facing Muslims about the issues of free speech. These cartoons have provoked a great anger.”
I'm sure some people are angry about 'these cartoons'. After all, you've every right to be offended and upset by things that are written. But what George and his friends want is a privileged protection for one particular religion - they want the right not to be offended. And in doing this they want to remove the right to free expression from other people.
On Tuesday next week, Bradford Council will debate a motion that says:
This Council notes the deplorable recent terror attacks in and around Paris.
The Council reaffirms its commitment to the freedom of self expression, as contained within Article 10 of the Human Rights Act 1998.
The Council requests that the Interim Chief Executive write to Anne Hidalgo, the Mayor of Paris, expressing Bradford District Citizens’ condolences for and esprit de corps with, the people of Paris and wider France.
It will be interesting to see what is said - and whether other councillors try to water down the commitment to support free speech. I am reminded that, on a previous occasion, Bradford's Labour Group voted down a similar motion (proposed in less shocking circumstances).
Update: In a slightly delicious reaction, Jason Smith - Bradford UKIP head honcho - has called for the event to be banned. Seems UKIP don't think much of free speech either! It also resulted in Galloway - having organised an anti-free speech rally - to make out he's defending free speech. Proof yet again how monumentally stupid UKIP folk too often are!