Monday 19 November 2018

'Blasphemy' backlash spreads to Dublin as Muslims march on Google headquarters

Laura Noonan

The global backlash against an anti-Islam video spread to the streets of Dublin as hundreds of protesters marched to Google's European headquarters and demanded the offensive material be taken offline.

The Dublin protests, which passed off quietly to chants of "Islam is peace" and "We love Mohammed", came days after a lawsuit was filed in Los Angeles calling on Google to take the video down from Google-owned YouTube.

The contentious video has already sparked a wave of protests across the globe; several have been violent, including one that saw the US ambassador to Libya killed.

Speaking outside Google's Barrow Street HQ, Muslim cleric Alam Ghulam Rabbini of the Irish Sufi Foundation insisted that the protesters were not against freedom of speech but said the video should still be taken down.

"You should not allow these (filmmakers) to use freedom of expression to hurt the feelings of 1.5 billion Muslims around the world," he said.

His words were met with cheers from the crowd of about 200, while Google staff recorded the protest on their smartphones.

The crowd, almost all young men, began their protest on O'Connell Street, accompanied by about 15 uniformed gardai and several of their own stewards in hi-vis jackets.

Hundreds of placards were distributed, along with homemade T-shirts which most wore.

"I've come to take action against this (video), to ban this, it insults Muslims," said Assam Mohammed, a translator who has been in Ireland for seven years.

Zarif Khan, a 28-year-old international politics student, said he had come to push for a law that protects "every religion" from being insulted in the name of freedom of speech.

After the Google protest, the group moved to the American Embassy in Ballsbridge to protest at US President Barack Obama's statement that while the film was "crude and disgusting" it cannot be banned because of freedom of speech rules.

Google chairman Eric Schmidt previously said: "Google has a very clear view on this, which is that we believe the answer to bad speech is more speech."

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