Lone protester ejected from Stop the War meeting
Saturday March 01, 2008 00:54 by Observer
Speakers platform calls on BCC security to eject protesting Jew
Strange goings on at the Bristol Council House tonight, as BCC security were called upon to physically, and forcibly, eject a lone protester from the World Against War public meeting.
As the chairperson on the platform called for respect for democracy at the meeting, organisers encouraged 4 very large security men to eject a single male protester. The bespectacled male, wearing a bright yellow cloth star emblazed with 'Jew', had attempted to speak on the platform after the meting was addressed by SWP full-timer John Reese.
Tonights controversial Bristol Stop the War meeting (see debate on this newswire!) had attracted some 175 people to a venue costing £600 to hire. The lone protester had walked to the front of the hall to the right of the stage (as you looked at it) soon after the first speaker had begun. Standing with a video camera under his right arm, he had tried to interject several times during the speech by Reese, and was asked by at least one woman to desist, as well as by the chairperson. From what could be heard, the protester was seeking to highlight the deaths of Jewish people at the hands of Arabs (and others), as a counter to the highlighting of the thousands killed by the state of Israel.
Reese, whose speech was accompanied by increasingly frenetic chopping motions of his right hand, that ended in a finger-stabbing motion, referred to the protester on a number of occasions. As Reese finished, the protester attempted to speak through the main mic, but was quickly surrounded by BCC security. Refusing to desist, the man was then physically manhandled off the stage and out of the room. Whilst some in the audience clearly supported this, a few others shouted their dissent, but no-one else intervened.
Tonights events can only be seen as a major cock-up and PR nightmare by the organisers in enforcing their own brand of democracy on the anti-war movement. Having invited a spokesperson from a radical islamist group that has provoked widespread concern and debate, they then fucked up massively. By far their simplest and most sensible option would have been to give the protester 5 minutes at the mic to say what he wanted to say, and the meeting could have continued as planned after. Instead uniformed security were seen on camera to manhandle the guy away.
To his credit, Mousawi, the spokesperson for Hezbollah. claimed he would have been willing to give up some of his speaking time for the protester to speak, but this did not happen and it is unclear if the chairperson was aware of the offer. Mousawi, dressed all in black with a full-length black leather overcoat, gave an interesting and powerfull speech. Defending the right of the Lebanese people to resist external aggresion and occupation, he also stated his belief in the need for humanity as a whole, across all religions, to learn to live together as one family.
What stood out or this observer however, was the speaker from Iraqi oil workers union. The only speaker not speaking in English, and the only one without a degree from a UK university, his humility and basic understanding of the need for working class solidarity in the face of aggression from capital & imperialism, was worth listening to.