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Man arrested for poppy burning Facebook picture

By Padraig Reidy / 12 November, 2012

Police in Kent, England have arrested a man after he posted a picture of a burning Remembrance Day poppy on Facebook. According to the Kent Police website, the man is being questioned on suspicion of “malicious communications”.

UPDATE – Kent Police released the following information

A man from Aylesham who was arrested after allegedly posting an offensive comment alongside a picture of a burning poppy on Facebook has been released on police bail pending further investigations.

Officers investigated after receiving a complaint about the posting on the social media website.

Following an investigation by Kent Police the 19-year-old man was arrested on suspicion of an offence under the Malicious Communications Act. He has been interviewed by detectives and released on police bail, pending further investigation.

Red poppies are worn on and before Remembrance Sunday in November, to commemorate those who died in war.

In March 2011, Emdadur Choudhury, a member of Islamist group Muslims Against Crusades, was convicted after burning poppies in public in London.

In March 2012, Yorkshire man Azhar Ahmed was arrested for a Facebook status update suggesting that British soldiers would go to hell.

This latest arrest comes as the Crown Prosecution Service is set to release interim guidelines for prosecution of offences on social media.

(via Liberal Conspiracy)

Read: Padraig Reidy on poppy burning and the invention of fetish

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About Padraig Reidy

Padraig Reidy Padraig Reidy is former senior writer at Index on Censorship. He has also written for the Observer, the Guardian, and the Irish Times.

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13 Responses to Man arrested for poppy burning Facebook picture

  1. falling love spouse Reply

    10 April at 05:01

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  2. Step Left Reply

    13 November at 18:33

    @ Joe Bloggs

    I call troll on that one, heard it too much and its a hilariously reactionary cliche.

    However, I’ll engage in the troll. I sometimes feel its quite a shame I believe in freedom of expression and that I dont control the State, because sometimes, on an emotional level, I do wish I could use State power to brutalize stupid, ignorant and reactionary fools which you are portraying. The content of your joke, if it werent a joke of course, offends me to my inner humanistic core. I’m no pacifist, so I believe violence is sometimes necessary to progress political goals, and while ordinary people arent the problem, some of them, if they express such vile statements in a serious, non-joke way, perhaps would be the bedrock of any fascist reaction against democratic and progressive forces in society. So once again, in jokey form, I wonder what the people who express views you are satarising would say when I point out which wall has their name on it.

  3. Matt Flaherty Reply

    13 November at 17:24

    I forgot to mention above that we do not require expressions of distaste to be intelligent and eloquent. This would not give equal protection to the segment of society who lack the sophistication to be anything but crude. Freedom of speech is not just for the educated and cultivated.

    Try a thought experiment. In your mind, modify the text that this offender wrote alongside the image in such a way that it conveys the same idea in a more high brow style. Then ask yourself whether the law should intervene. I’ll go first. “Soldiers s’ jobs are to maim and kill. I will not honour them.”

    Would the picture by itself constitute an offence? The police do not seem to think so.

  4. Duke_of_Monton Reply

    13 November at 12:05

    Well said Uncle Bill

  5. Matt Flaherty Reply

    12 November at 16:50

    sr0120 – “The poppy is our symbol, our reminder of our fallen from over the years…” This is voluntary, not mandatory. “YES we have a free country, but without the hardwork of our fallen, past and present, we wouldnt have FREE SPEECH!” It appears we don’t. Well done. *slow clap*

    Adam – “I don’t understand why there is such an uproar about the arrest. So far from what I’ve read in the press he was arrested after police investigated a complaint they had received. No charges have been brought yet, so we’re a bit premature to get angry.” Complaint came from a far right activist group. The man has now been detained for nearly 24 hours, which is itself punitive.

    “Secondly, this young man is free to express his opinion without being offensive and potentially breaking the law.” He is free to be offensive too. As for potentially breaking the law, he would not be alone in wondering how exactly he has. One of the requirements of Article 10 of ECHR in 10.2 is that any interference is prescribed by law, which itself means among other things that people should be able to anticipate how the law would be applied. I would not have anticipated this. Many lawyers have expressed surprise as well. His method of expressing his political view (though likely to offend some) is perfectly legal as far as I was aware up until yesterday.

  6. Adam Reply

    12 November at 13:24

    I don’t understand why there is such an uproar about the arrest. So far from what I’ve read in the press he was arrested after police investigated a complaint they had received. No charges have been brought yet, so we’re a bit premature to get angry.

    Secondly, this young man is free to express his opinion without being offensive and potentially breaking the law. For example, if I wanted express an anti-capitalism view by vandalizing high street banks I don’t think anyone would be surprised if I was arrested. There would be legal ways for me to express my point of view. I believe this situation is the same. He has done something (possibly) deemed illegal in expressing a point of view. He should find a legal method of expressing himself in future.

  7. sr0120 Reply

    12 November at 10:55

    The poppy is our symbol, our reminder of our fallen from over the years… YES we have free speech, YES we have a free country, but without the hardwork of our fallen, past and present, we wouldnt have FREE SPEECH! I DO believe Jail would be extreme for this ignorant boy, however i DO NOT think he should get away with being so obviously disrespectful and ignorant!!

  8. Matt Flaherty Reply

    12 November at 09:51

    Some of you people are the worst kind of idiot. Well, two of you (so far) anyway. Your attitudes are repugnant and antithetical to a free society. This should never happen in a society that calls itself free.

  9. Mrs Jenkinson Reply

    12 November at 09:43

    The person arrested is a 19 year old white mail..priviliged and enjoying a college education..I saw the post and the de=isgusting comment he also made about our serving soldiers..this disgusting behaviour cannot be tolerated ..this person is a disgrace to his family his college and the country..

  10. Martin Reply

    12 November at 09:39

    Whether one likes the picture or not, what law has this man broken to warrant his arrest? Perhaps he was protesting about the illegal wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

    This is freedom of expression.

    When I recently reported a company for fraud to the police they (surprise surprise) did not want to know. I have had many friend who have had the same experience with the police.

    Report a real crime and they do not want to know. Very Worrying.

  11. Pingback: Britain’s Morality Police | 1984watch

  12. Bill Bloggs Reply

    12 November at 08:39

    Joe Bloggs

    I am sure you find it at least mystifying and at most repulsive that Muslims get furious when people draw a cartoon of the Prophet Mohammed, and that people should be free to draw whatever they wish. Well, like you, I find it repulsive that someone wishes to desecrate the memory of those who have fought and died for our country, but I also accept that someone has – or should have the right to freely express themselves – regardless of who it offends.

    And that is what this is about: Offence. Laws against creating offence should not exist at all, simply because it is a grey area where the level of offence is entirely subjective.

    Finally, I choose to look upon the poppy burner as an idiot. Do his actions offend me? Not really – it takes far more than the symbolic actions of a fool to get my back up – mainly because I choose not to be offended – I’m a grown-up and can easily compartmentalise what is actually a serious offence and what is not.

    All the best,
    Uncle Bill

  13. Joe Bloggs Reply

    12 November at 05:57

    This site calls itself ‘The Voice of Free Expression’. From this I gather that it thinks this poppy-burning idiot should have the right to this ‘freedom of expression’. How ironic that this website exists because those the poppy represents died and gave up their own chance of freedom of expression. I wonder how much freedom of expression you’d have if this poppy-burning cretin and his mob had the whip hand? You lose any credence by defending those whose only freedom of expression they recognise is their own, whilst those they insult gave you the freedom of a free world and life, which includes greater freedoms than being allowed to burn the symbol of those who fought and died for such greater freedoms. Freedom of expression? In my opinion these poppy-burning scum shouldn’t have the freedom of life! I wonder if you think that paedophiles should have the right to their ‘freedom of expression’?? I wouldn’t have thought so, given their vile inclinations (though who knows? You may well do). Well burning the symbol of those who died for your very existence is also vile, though trying to point this out is a lost cause. Looking at your site it’s obvious your have a pro-Muslim agenda. Yes, the typical hypocrisy as usual.

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