A "pick-up artist" who said "rape should be legal" is holding events across the world — including many U.K. cities — this weekend and people aren't happy.
Daryush Valizadeh, who goes by the name of Roosh V, has called his event International Meetup Day. His followers are organising summits all over the U.S. and in no less than 43 other countries, including Australia, China, France and Spain.
In the U.K. meetings are scheduled to take place in eight cities including Glasgow, Manchester, Cardiff and London.
At the meetings, which are for heterosexual men only, supporters will go on to bars to practise the "pick-up" techniques taught by Valizadeh in his self-published books and blogs, which feature stories of his own conquests around the globe and have been described as a "thinly-veiled guide to rape".
Valizadeh has openly confessed to raping a woman in his book Bang Iceland.
"While walking to my place, I realized how drunk she was," he wrote. "In America, having sex with her would have been rape, since she legally couldn't give her consent. It didn't help matters that I was sober, but I can't say I cared or even hesitate. I won't rationalize my actions, but having sex is what I do. [sic]"
At the time of publication, Glasgow-based feminist campaigner Cat Boyd has 51,975 signatures on a petition she set up on Monday to ban Roosh V's meetings in Scotland.
"Stop RooshV being allowed to promote his hateful violent views in our cities," Boyd writes. "RooshV, a militant pro-rape pick-up artist is holding gatherings for his followers in Glasgow and Edinburgh. This makes our cities unsafe for at least half the population. Promoting rape is hate speech, and should be treated as such."
Glasgow City Council has denied Roosh V's followers permission to use George Square for their meeting, following online threats made against female protestors, but does not have the power to ban events taking place in public areas. A council spokesperson said, "This group does not have permission to use George Square for an event and never will. It certainly does not have any right to tell women to not enter the Square. Any threats made against the public are a matter for police."
Several other countries are calling for a boycott of Valizadeh's International Meetup Day, including Australia, where a petition to prevent his followers meeting in Sydney has over 100,000 signatures. In the wake of the petition's success, female Australian journalists asking to interview the blogger have been met with sexist retorts including "would not bang, so no interview" and requests for sexual favours.
Other countries planning organised protests against the event include Canada, the Netherlands, New Zealand and Sweden.
Feminism in London have written to the Home Secretary Theresa May asking for Valizadeh to be excluded from the U.K. on the basis that his entry to the country is "not conducive to the public good." However it appears that Valizadeh intends to be elsewhere this weekend:
To all attractive Australian girls in age range of 18-22. I'm coming to your country and am free to meet for drinks. Email firstname.lastname@example.org.— Roosh (@rooshv) February 1, 2016
Valizadeh’s most controversial comments came in a 2015 blog post titled "How to stop rape."
"Let's make rape legal," he wrote. "Less women will be raped because they won't voluntarily drug themselves with booze and follow a strange man into a bedroom, and less men will be unfairly jailed for what was anything but a maniacal alley rape."
He believes rape "should be legalised on private property" and in other posts provides tips for "picking up" women, imploring men to "stop asking for permission" when it comes to sex. His website asserts that "a woman's value significantly depends on her fertility and beauty."
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