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Wednesday, January 06, 2010

How Not to Respond to Provocateurs

It was reported on today's Morning Edition that a group called Islam for UK is planning a march in an Enlish town that is known for its ceremonies honoring British soldiers who have died in Afghanistan. The stated purpose of the march is to remember Afghan civilians killed in the conflict, but the choice of venue clearly reflects to use sensationalism with a view to recruiting people to political Islam.

Understandably, some British Muslims aren't happy about this. Their group, British Muslims for Secular Democracy, has announced a counterprotest.

While I sympathize with their anger at the attempt to foment polarization, I fear their chosen response will play into the Islamists' hands. It will let them pose as the only ones concerned about civilian deaths, while possible creating the impression that all secularists are prowar.

Instead of a protest focused on opposing the Islamists, it might make more sense for secularists to demonstrate against the war as secularists. In this way they could undercut the Islamists' frame rather than reinforce it.

Eric Hamell

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