James Forsyth

The Luton protest

The Luton protest
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It is hard not to feel rage when one sees soldiers returning home from serving their country being abused by protestors as they were in Luton yesterday. There are those who are making a free speech argument in defence of the police allowing these Islamists to picket the homecoming parade. But the problem is that there appears to be a double-standard when it comes to free speech. These protests are allowed to go ahead but Geert Wilders, who is a bore but also a member of the legislature of one of our closest allies, is banned from the UK for the fear of the offence he might cause.

The protests also raise another point: there are, as Con Coughlin says, people in this country who are on the other side in the wars that we fight. If they wish to be so passively or symbolically, as these protesters were, there is little the state can do. But if these people actively aid the enemy—the insurgents in Afghanistan and Iraq—by sending them supplies or fighting with them then they should be charged not with terrorism offences but with treason. A state that refuses to prosecute for treason those of its citizens who actively assist those who are fighting it is betraying itself.

Written byJames Forsyth

James Forsyth is Political Editor of the Spectator. He is also a columnist in The Sun.

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