Salman Rushdie

2nd July, 2007 – Parliament Square, London

I was taking a friend around London today when we came across a protest in Parliament Square.

It must have been a pretty spontaneous demonstration – police had just started to arrive.

I crossed the road and went into the park to take a look at what was going on.

They were demonstrating against Salman Rushdie’s knighthood, which has already sparked protests in other countries such as Pakistan and Iran.

The man above told me he’d missed a court appearance to take part in the protest. He wouldn’t say why he had to attend court, saying ‘you don’t want to know’. He and others asked where I was from and I told them I don’t work for any media organisation, but that I have a website where I post pictures of protests.

He asked for my site and also gave me his name – Roshan Jat. I have a feeling this isn’t his real name (from the reactions of the others). He wrote down a message he wanted me to display here.

This is what it said:

‘Die muthafucka you deserve to die’ – referring to Salman Rushdie.

One of the group took a video of him writing the message using his mobile phone, and then turned the mobile on me, asking for my name and website. I complied – nothing like a bit of spammage eh!

The man below was being interviewed and although someone told me his name, I didn’t catch it so I’m not entirely sure who he is.

‘We condemn terrorist activities’. Hm. That message is quite a contrast to ‘Die muthafucka you deserve to die’…

Quite a few of the protesters spoke to me asking general questions. I was also stopped by a policeman who quizzed me on why I was taking pictures. It’s funny how much attention you get being the only photographer around. I was being watched like a card counter at the world poker tour. More policemen started to arrive as I left, including one with the huge camera that always makes an appearance at protests.

There was also a protest taking place opposite Downing Street, although I didn’t take any pictures. Hm, I wonder how many demonstrations occur in London each week.

On a side note, walking around today, there was definitely a greater presence of policemen in the capital since the recent attempted car bombs. I noticed policemen stopping and searching vans and cars, and walking around train stations.

When will the madness stop?

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