Tommy Robinson’s Hand of Friendship to the Muslim Community

By: Chris Knowles

It has been an interesting week for those, like us, who have concerns about aspects of sharia law. Tommy Robinson and Kevin Carroll both resigned from their positions as co-leaders of the anti-sharia pressure group, the English Defence League. What is remarkable is that their message has not changed. They still talk about opposing extremism and they still favour a multicultural, multi-racial society, democratic society. What has changed is that those who were previously deaf to this message are now actually hearing what they say.

Of course, some will expose their own political biases by arguing that their message has not changed for other reasons. They will argue that they are still far right extremists bent on demonising Muslims. However, this was something that they never were in the first place. This was a caricature, albeit one that was reinforced by those small numbers who had infiltrated the EDL to deliberately cause conflict. This caricature was created to stereotype them and prevent the very discussions and debates that now appear to have started.

There will be other people who will argue that the Quilliam Foundation is this or that, that they are not really what they claim to be, etc. When it comes down it such speculation is not really relevant at this stage. What is important is that a debate has now started, Muslims and non-Muslims are talking together to try to actually solve real social problems. Whether people are genuine or not will emerge naturally during the course of the discussions and people can make their judgements then. A process has now started and that is positive so long as people are not demonised and excluded from the debate.

The current situation is akin to people with different opinions coming together in parliaments or at the United Nations where they discuss their differences as well as what they have in common. When states do this it is called diplomacy. You don’t work with your friends to mitigate and end conflicts, disagreements, and misunderstandings, you work with people who you have previously not seen eye to eye with. Mr Robinson and Mr Carroll have offered the hand of friendship to the Muslims of the Quilliam Foundation and the Muslims of the Quilliam Foundation have accepted that hand. That is a huge step, and represents not an end but a potentially very positive beginning.

I am also keen to work with Muslims and engage in public discussion in order to help create a society of tolerance and mutual understanding. The International Civil Liberties Alliance (ICLA) spent a week in late September at the OSCE Human Dimension Implementation Meeting in Warsaw working towards this end. Our main focus was about definitions as these are often the source of misunderstanding and conflict. Unfortunately we had a very hard time getting through to many OSCE delegates even though a big part of the OSCE remit is conflict prevention. Perhaps preconceptions about us have led to negative stereotypes in much the same way as they did with Mr Robinson and Mr Carroll!

A particular concern about definitions related to a new OSCE publication entitled Guidelines for Educators on Countering Intolerance and Discrimination against Muslims: Addressing Islamophobia through Education. While we acknowledge that it is extremely important to counter intolerance and discrimination against Muslims, we have very grave concerns about the use of term “Islamophobia”. Indeed this term is routinely used to demonise and stereotype anyone who has any concern about any aspect of sharia. As such it is actually a barrier dialogue and mutual understanding.

We are not alone with our concerns about the term “Islamophobia” there is an article at the Huffington Post website entitled How Muslims Created Islamophobia and one at the Clarion Project website entitled Moderate Muslims Oppose ‘Islamophobia’ Tactic that express concerns too.

At the OSCE, we argued that if the term was to be used it should be properly defined so that it could only be used to address actual intolerance and discrimination against Muslims rather than as a tool to demonise people with genuine concerns. Unfortunately there was great resistance to our position and our concerns were casually brushed aside. We can only speculate about the reasons for this treatment because we do not know for sure the agendas that may lay behind the production of this publication.

ICLA had expressed an interest in being involved when this booklet was been developed. However we were informed that these meetings were for “experts” only and we were effectively excluded. The fact that these “experts” did not seem to understand what they meant by Islamophobia, even though they wrote a book about it that would influence the teaching of the next generation, brings into question, in my opinion, the nature of their “expertise”.

Our discussions at an OSCE side event organised by ODIHR about these matters can be found HERE where a transcript of the meeting can be found. We leave it to the reader to decide whether the booklet is really as positive a document as its authors claim it to be. We believe that it is likely to do more harm than good. If we had been involved in the production of the booklet, and an unambiguous and politically neutral definition of Islamophobia arrived at, then we would have been able to recommend the booklet and do our bit to ensure that cases of actual intolerance and discrimination against Muslim are addressed.

I certainly hope that the outreach work that Mr Robinson and Mr Carroll are now doing with the Muslim community in the United Kingdom will help address some of the concerns that I mention above. I hope that it will facilitate genuine dialogue between groups like ICLA, who have genuine concerns about aspects of sharia, and Muslim groups. I hope that there can be an open and honest debate about all concerns and that parties, including governments and their agents, do not resort to stereotyping any of the parties involved in the discussions. We are at the beginning of a potentially important period of discussion and dialogue, but only if governments, the press, and powerful lobbies get fully on board and stop being part of the problem.

Chris Knowles


Klayman: Truckers ‘Threatened’, ‘Harassed by the Government’

Hat Tip: BB


Truck drivers protesting government corruption in today’s “Ride for the Constitution” may have been intimidated by government officials and law enforcement, according to Larry Klayman, founder of Judicial Watch and Freedom Watch, and former Department of Justice prosecutor. Klayman revealed to MRCTV in an exclusive interview that the truckers were allegedly threatened with arrest and advised to stay out of D.C.


The Real Story of Opening the WW II Memorial Barricades on October 5th, 2013

By: Maggie Thornton
Maggie’s Notebook

There is an inspiring story behind how the October 5th Honor Flight Veterans were able to enter the barricaded World War II Memorial on the National Mall. Manuel Vega (Manny) lives in the D.C. area. He is a Marine with 3 tours of duty in Iraq. He served 5 years with the 1st Light Armored Reconnaissance Battalion at Camp Pendelton and was with the Staff NCO Academy at Marine Corps Base Quantico before leaving active duty in May 2011.

Manuel E. Vega III

On October 4th Manny put a post on his personal Facebook page that went viral when it was shared at Breitbart – One Voice Silenced, Millions Awakened. In the post, which you can read below in this article, he asked for others in the area to meet him at the Memorial at 9 a.m. to completely remove the barricades from the sight of the visiting Veterans. He didn’t want their view to be diminished or obstructed by seeing barricades when they approached. After the posting, and early in the morning of October 5th, Manuel had contact with an organizer who told him he should be on the Mall by no later than 7 a.m. if he wanted to get the barricades moved, so he was there, but the viral plea for live human bodies to show up and help had yielded only two others, personal friends Bill Main and Curtis Hazen.

With Park Police everywhere it became apparent that the 3 of them could not move the barricades across the street to the planned grassy area – completely out of sight, without being detained.

On that day, the Bikers Ride escorted buses carrying the Vets from the airport to the Memorial, so they were doing their jobs – their honor rides – and were not yet on site.

Manny got word that the first bus of Veterans were arriving. He hadn’t yet removed a single barricade. He walked to a spot where he could see a bus coming and stood there holding the flag you see in the photos above and below. The bus driver saw him, stopped and began off-loading. Park Rangers arrived and told the Veterans they could not enter at that spot. They had to walk “to the left” before entering – a long walk. The video below gives the best perspective I’ve seen of how large the area is and what a challenge it would be for an aging group of warriors. Manny simply removed sandbags, and opened the entrances on both sides and called them to enter: “Come on folks, the Memorial is open,” repeated more than once that day.

It became a game with the Park Rangers. Manny would open one side, people, not just veterans but joggers, regular sightseers, and surely families bringing their WW II Veteran with them to see the Memorial, streamed in. Manny would walk to the other side and repeat the opening. At the same time, Park Rangers were closing the opposite side, but many people were gaining entrance. The Rangers were not aggressive, just doing their jobs. Two bus loads entered during the game of opening and closing. Then the Rangers gave up, stood back and let people in. Manny assumes that continued for the remainder of the day.

Manny Vega with World War II Veterans

After the last Honor Flight arrival, the bikers were able to stay on site.

Before finishing the story, you should read Manny’s Facebook post that apparently caught the attention of the National Park Police and the FBI:

“We will remove the barricades and that is our intent…”


Tomorrow morning at nine o’clock. I will be at the World War Two Memorial on the Mall in Washington. We who gather there will demand the National Park Service Rangers to remove the barricades. We will give them an ultimatum. If they do not remove them by 2:00 in the afternoon. We will remove them by force. No weapons will be brought to this event. We need people, many people. PREPARE TO BE ARRESTED OR DETAINED. Show your true American colors and be there. Bring your Star-Spangled Banner with you.

We cannot permit this spiteful act by this third world, banana republic dictator wanna be, to go unchecked by We the People, the first branch of government. We will remove these barricades and that is our intent. Shutdown or no shutdown, this is ridiculous. Tyranny always starts small, inch by inch and this is one example of many.

Enough is enough! If we didn’t have any of our Second World War veterans alive today, We the People wouldn’t have access to honor them by visiting these memorials. Those barricades are an eye sore, should not be there in the first place and they must be removed.

Lastly, our World War II vets should not have to enter the memorial through those barricades. Also, those are Our barricades, we paid for them.

Contact me if you are seriously intending to attend tomorrow, so we can meet and coordinate.

I will do this alone if I have to.

Manuel E. Vega [October 4, 2013]

Note that he clearly states his intention is to remove the barricades by force if necessary, but to be on the Mall unarmed – no weapons.

Later in the afternoon, Manny was standing with another friend, Beth Crumley, a Marine Corps Historian and blogger for the Marine Corps Association when a Lieutenant in the National Park Service walked up, said”

“Hi Beth. Manny can I have word with you?”

Both were shocked that he knew their names. Manny asked how that happened. The Lieutenant said “hey man, you’re military, I’m a Marine, you’re a Marine. You got the attention of the National Park Service.” Manny asked “how about the FBI?” The Lieutenant didn’t say yes, but he tilted his head and raised an eyebrow, leading Manny to believe the answer was ‘yes.’

He told Manny that the Park Service didn’t know what he meant when he wrote: “We will remove them by force.” Guess they chose to ignore the part about no weapons, and the willingness to be arrested or detained which generally doesn’t indicate bashing a head with a baseball bat.

Vega and Beth Crumley spent time talking to Congressman Steve King (R-IA) at the Memorial who Manny said was concerned for our country, genuine and open to listening.

Manny Vega 9/11/13

As you know, I’m an Oklahoma girl, and as it turns out Manny’s good “buddy” in the Marines was Oklahoman Natchez Little Fawn Washalanta. ‘Wash’ or ‘Chez’ was a good “buddy” to many in his unit. He died at age 21 in combat on August 21, 2004. On September 11, 2013 Manny was at the Capitol and had the opportunity to talk with former Congressman, Colonel Allen West. In the photo below you see Manny adding his own Memorial Bracelet for Washalanta to the wrist of Colonel West. Any man who tells a superior officer he would “walk through hell with a gas can” if it would protect his men, is a hero. That’s exactly what Allen West did.

Nachez Little Fawn Washalanta, KIA Al Anbar, Iraq, August 21, 2004

Colonel Allen West and Manuel Vega – photo courtesy of Christine VanHalem

Manny is only 28 years old, soon to be 29. Talking to him is like listening to an audio book of all the history of this country so dear to you and to me. Born in Puerto Rico, he came to the U.S. when he was 7 years old. He was 16 on September 11, 2001. He turned 17 on November 9th. On November 12, 2001 his mother reluctantly went with him to join the Marines.

On Sunday, October 13th he will be on the Mall again as one of the Million Veteran March. He is not a leader or organizer. He will be there as one more Veteran to honor all who have sacrificed, and to do whatever he is asked to do.

Note to readers: Every time I speak with those involved, they say “it’s not about me.” No one is looking for self-promotion, but in my view, if you don’t know the stories, you don’t know what’s going on, and to give you a story, I have to give you a name. There are hundreds of stories, I’m sure. I have just a few to share with you. Maybe there will be more as these events continue throughout 2014.

“We can’t all be heroes [or be there in person]. Someone has to stand on the curb and clap as they go by.” ~ Will Rogers

See below the “ride” and “march” events coming up the weekend of October 11, 12 and 13, 2013 and contacts where you’ll find updates. If you need a ride to the Million Vet March, read on.

Manny Vega Facebook

Million Vet March on Memorials (October 13, 2013)

9 am at National World War II Memorial, Washington DC and other Veterans Memorials Across the United States.

Truckers Ride for the Constitution (October 11, 12 and 13, 2013)

Zeeda Andrews Facebook – Truckers Ride

Truckers Ride October 11, 12, 13 – No Freight Hauling, Flags Flying – How You Can Help Locally, Where to Meet-up

Ryan Mendonca on Facebook (Bikers 50 State National Coordinator)

Meet at the Vietnam Memorial at 1 pm EDT
Skyline Drive at Green Hill Park
Worcester, Massachusetts

My story on Ryan Mendonca and this weekend’s New England Ride to the Worcester, Massachusetts Vietnam Memorial in support of the Million Vet March on Memorials

New England Ride to Vietnam Memorial (October 13, 2013) Belinda Bee Facebook – Bikers Ride

2 Million Bikers to D.C. Facebook2 Million Bikers to D.C. new websiteEric Zern on Facebook

Maryland Riders!

This Sunday, 13 October is a huge day in DC. We not only have our Patriot Truckers Ride For The Constitution in town, but there is also the Million Vets March and more WWII vets coming in to see THEIR memorial.

There is a group of us from Western and Central Maryland that are riding to DC the morning of Sunday, 13 October, to be a part of these events. BUT!!…we will be leaving early to get under much of the traffic and other madness of that day and we will not be taking I-270 in because of the trucks.

I will be at the AC&T station, 1449 South Potomac Street, Hagerstown, Maryland with KSU at 5:30 a.m. We will be riding to Frederick, Maryland, and meeting more riders at Harry Grove Stadium, with KSU at 6:00.

Note: The meeting place at Harry Grove Stadium will be the large Parking Lot off of New Design Road, NOT the lot at the entrance to the stadium.

If you want to respond and let me know you’re coming, that’s fine. It’s always nice to know the size of the group. However, it is not necessary that you respond. You are welcome to just show up if you wish.

I have said this before and I’ll say it again! We roll with honor! We roll with respect! We roll with dignity and substance! We represent the best that is in America! If you’re going into DC to bust stuff up or be confrontation, please reconsider this ride! We are doing this to support the truckers, support the Million Vets March, and to support our WWII vets, not ourselves! I can assure you that any rider with hostile intents will be confronted by your patriot brothers and asked to stand down! It will also be the last time you ride with us!! We will know when our day has arrived! In the meantime, let’s roll!!

God Bless America!! Ride safe, brothers!! [October 8, 2013]

My story on Eric Zern

Click the Graphic for more information

A good view of the vast expanse of the World War II Memorial with Greta Van Susteran