Police forces around the country are aware there may be "underground meetings" at the weekend held by supporters of the so-called "pick-up artist" Daryush Valizadeh, aka Roosh V. Some have indicated they plan to have a presence in the areas where they believe the meetings will be held.
Valizadeh has been publishing his views for years, but is perhaps most infamous for a post entitled "How to Stop Rape", in which he blamed women for not taking more precautions over their own safety and said: "I thought about this problem and am sure I have the solution: Make rape legal if done on private property. I propose that we make the violent taking of a woman not punishable by law when done off public grounds."
His views have provoked outrage, not least in Canada last year, where he was recognised and had drinks thrown over him amid angry scenes.
On Saturday, his supporters in the Return of Kings group are planning to hold "tribal gatherings" at various locations around the country as part of an international meet-up day.
The news has sparked an angry reaction from locals in some of the areas where the group plans to gather. An online petition in Scotland to keep Valizadeh from entering the country has so far attracted 45,000 signatures, and while there is no indication yet that he plans to visit the country, an SNP MP has preemptively written to the Home Secretary asking that Valizadeh is banned from doing so.
BuzzFeed News has contacted local authorities to find out their plans for the weekend. Greater Manchester police said they were aware of the concern, but said "despite social media speculation it is not entirely clear what anyone attending actually wishes to discuss or share thoughts on."
They added: "Police will continue to monitor social media and have spoken to all licensees and hoteliers in the city centre and there will be a police presence in the area around the time the meeting is due to go ahead."
Another meeting is planned in Shrewsbury. West Mercia police told BuzzFeed News they would be "monitoring the situation very carefully together with our local partners, and will provide a proportionate response." They added: "Extra patrols will be in place to ensure the gathering remains peaceful, should it take place, and officers will take appropriate action if anyone acts outside of the law."
In Scotland, a Glasgow City Council spokesperson has 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."
In Cardiff, the head of the city's public protection unit said they were "aware" of the planned event and were "reviewing information". He added: "South Wales police takes all reports of sexual violence extremely seriously and, with the police and crime commissioner, have been working with partner agencies to make tackling this type of crime a priority as part of our violence against women and girls strategy.
"Sex without consent is rape. There are no excuses."
Speaking about a planned event in Newcastle, a Northumbria police spokesman said: "The public have brought the event to police attention, but we haven't been formally notified of any event taking place by the organisers. However, we will monitor this and respond accordingly."
Two meetings are also planned in London and another in Leeds. BuzzFeed News contacted the Metropolitan police and West Yorkshire police but had not received a response at the time of publication.
The British Home Office won't comment on individual visa applications, but the home secretary, Theresa May, may decide to exclude an individual who is not a British citizen if she considers that their presence in the UK is not conducive to the public good. Such a conclusion was reached last year in the case of another so-called "pick-up artist", Julien Blanc.
Valizadeh is unlikely to try to come to Britain soon. He is currently attempting to enter Australia, but is unlikely to be granted access, as BuzzFeed News reported on Monday. He told the Guardian that he doesn't need a visa if "entering by boat", but what he meant is unclear. He went on to decline an interview with the paper's reporter on the grounds that he "would not bang" her.
Alan White is a news editor for BuzzFeed News and is based in London.
Contact Alan White at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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