Interview: Australian Man Faces Prison Over Video That ‘May Offend Muslims’
After protesting the construction of a Mosque in his area, 27-year-old Blair Cottrell of Australia posted a video of the demonstration to Facebook. He is now facing up to 6 months in jail for creating content that “may be offensive to Muslims.”
In 2015, Cottrell and some friends staged a mock beheading of a dummy in protest of the 2015 Parramatta shooting and subsequent plans to construct a mosque in Bendigo. He later uploaded footage of the event to Facebook.
They did not break windows. They did not assault people who do not share their views. No buildings were looted or set ablaze.
Yet, Cottrell is now facing four criminal charges for being “offensive.”
The most serious charge reads that Cottrell “on the grounds of religious belief or activity of another person or class of persons, namely Muslims, knowingly engaged in conduct being the participation in the making of a video with the intention of inciting serious contempt for, or revulsion or severe ridicule of, that other person or class of persons.”
Cottrell is the first in the nation to face this specific charge under the Racial and Religious Tolerance Act of 2001. If convicted, he told Big League Politics that he believes this will be a major step towards destroying free speech.
The activist explained that “the charge specifically states that the offence was ‘participating in the making of the video’, so the action of the mock-beheading itself is not the issue, only sharing the video of it to Facebook.”
“This particular charge has never been used before in Australian history, so it’s a precedent case – meaning the state of Victoria is trying to set a new standard and legal precedent by convicting me. Basically, if they win it means they can forever use my case as a basis for charging and convicting anyone who says anything they don’t like in the future. It’s a big move toward speech-control in Australia,” Cottrell told Big League Politics.
Beyond the charges, Cottrell was also silenced by Facebook, who deleted his massive Facebook page, the United Patriots Front, as well as the personal pages of all admins. He stated that he was told this was done at the request of the Victoria Police Department.
“Facebook has since deleted my our Facebook page which had over 120k followers, and I was told by a ranking member of Victoria police that the shutdown of the page was the result of two government agencies putting pressure on Facebook to close it down, however I don’t have any actual evidence of that,” Cottrell said.
He added that, “after it was deleted I started up a public figure page named after myself to keep the following informed, it generated a following of just over 15k in three weeks before that was deleted too, in the same way.”
“Facebook has not given me any reason for why these pages were deleted, it simply deleted the pages and all accounts on the admin panels without explanation. The accounts are still not accessible. The original UPF page had over 20 personal accounts on the admin panel, all those accounts were deleted permanently along with the page,” Cottrell explained.
In a video posted to YouTube where Cottrell explained his charges, he noted that there have been multiple Antifa riots with significant violence and property damage in recent times — yet none of the militant protesters have faced charges, aside from one, for littering.
Out of the protests Cottrell discusses in the video, one specific incident stands out, as he is facing a charge of ‘defacement of property’ for accidentally spilling fake blood on a public sidewalk.
In November, protesters outside of parliament filled the entire fountain with blood in protest of refugee detention camps. Additionally, the Antifa demonstrators shut down Parliament as some stormed the building, some stood in the fountain, and others unfurled a banner reading “close the bloody camps now #justice4refugees” from the roof.
“I’m looking at 6 months jail for that, whereas Leftists can storm Parliament House, shut it down for a day, climb onto the roof and fill a million dollar fountain with red food dye without consequence,” Cottrell told Big League.
None of the vandals appear to have been charged with property destruction over the stunt — which was undoubtedly more expensive to clean up than Cottrell’s minor spill. Greens Senator Lee Rhiannon even brought the pro-refugee demonstrators chocolates and congratulated them on their protest after Parliament was halted.
“It’s obvious that at a government and institutional level there is a strong effort being made to excuse leftist violence and promote leftist ideology. In conjunction with this, Conservatives and Patriots in Australia are attacked, slandered, ridiculed and in my particular case, dragged through the courts with criminal charges for ‘offensive speech,'” Cottrell added. “All of this seems to happening in western nations world wide. It’s a relentless conspiracy and needs to be exposed as much as possible by anybody who still has the courage to tell the truth.”
When asked if his lawyers expect to beat the charge, Cottrell told Big League that “it’s new territory for any lawyer here in Victoria, so they can’t really say.”
Hearings in the case begin in September.