The "Stop the Islamization of Europe" movement got a permit to hold a demonstration on the Dam on Saturday, and journalists outnumbered the demonstrators by a factor of about 5-1.
You see, international media smell a "Danish Cartoon" controversy in the making if right-wing lawmaker Geert Wilders' film about the Quran is as explosive as he hopes _ and the Dutch government fears _ it is.
Of course, intrepid pudgy American reporters were on the scene.
On one side of the Dam, the "Stop Islamization"-ists attracted quite a crowd of reporters and police. Here's me trying to understand their point of view:
(looking across police lines)
On the other side, behind a row of horse-mounted police officers, were the people protesting the protesters. This young man's message was clear:
("All Racists Out Of The Country")
Got that straight? Now, the third party in the mix was a bunch of clowns.
To try to give an idea of the layout, I climbed a light post. Unfortunately the clowns had changed location, but I think this still gives a fair overview. I label the participants "Fascists, Leftists and Clowns," just as a kind of shorthand:
More pictures, including hot clown action, after the "More"
This guy was convinced Geert Wilders should go to jail for hate speech. He had kind of a Malcolm X vibe.
Some other objects of interest:
Here's a young woman (I think it was a woman!) wearing a burka. The number of women who actually wear burkas normally in the Netherlands has been estimated at less than 100, so you would be tempted to say, either her presence was an incredible coincidence, or she may have intentionally put it on today to make a point. I remark without further judgment that she was wearing jeans underneath.
Nice photo, no?
Here are some undercover cops. See how seamlessly they blend in?
Here is Ehsan Jami. He said he just happened to be walking by...
He also had a subtle security guard (far left), who looked capable of kicking some fairly major ass if the need arose.
I'd post a clip of Jami talking, but he was speaking Dutch. Also noteworthy: I believe the woman who was interviewing him is Metje Blaak, head of the prostitute's labor union. I have no idea what she was doing with a cameraman and microphone, but I'm curious to find out. She asked Jami a sneaky "one last question" _ namely, whether he had a girlfriend or not. Jami gave a roundabout 'no.'
There were a few heated discussions, but no fights. Except among clowns...