A self-styled pick-up artist who has spoken in favour of legalising rape on private property has cancelled a series of meet-ups for his 'neomasculine' supporters, amid fears for their safety. Daryush Valizadeh, otherwise known as Roosh V, had organised meet-ups for members of his militant anti-feminist group Return of Kings across the UK, US, Australia and Canada for Saturday 6 February, but said they will not go ahead.
In an announcement on his website, Roosh V said: "I can no longer guarantee the safety or privacy of the men who want to attend on February 6, especially since most of the meetups cannot be made private in time. While I can't stop men who want to continue meeting in private groups, there will be no official Return Of Kings meetups. The listing page has been scrubbed of all locations. I apologise to all the supporters who are let down by my decision."
His announcement comes following several different petitions calling on the openly homophobic and feminist-hating blogger to be banned from entering certain countries, with one Change.ogr petition in Australia garnering more than 100,000 signatures.
The 'Stop Supporters of 'Legal Rape' Roosh V Advocates meeting in Sydney/Entering Australia' petition said: "Australia already has a widespread problem with rape, abuse and violence against women and does not need any more encouragement to harm women from people like Roosh V and his followers. What these men are advocating is, and should legally be considered, a hate-crime. Not only should the police stop this event from occurring – they also need to inspect the men attending this event."
A similar petition in the UK reached 76,000 signatures, and said: "We call on the police to take all available action in this case to prevent these meetings taking place. Failing to do so will devalue any pledges to end violence against women and girls."
Despite writing an article entitled 'how to stop rape' that stated "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", Roosh V has said he is not pro-rape and claimed his article was satirical.
Governor Greg Abbott issued a statement following reports that Return of Kings planned to hold events on Saturday, February 6th in multiple cities across Texas. He said: "This pathetic group and their disgusting viewpoints are not welcome in Texas. I've spent much of my career protecting women from such vile and heinous acts, and it won't be any different on my watch as governor."
As Roosh V had previously stated that meet-ups would take place regardless of the reaction of officials and members of the public, some felt that the meetings were going ahead but had been made private following a media backlash. One person commented on Roosh V's website: "The whole thing has been kept in a private circle of people. This is a false announcement to keep protesters away."
In an announcement on 3 February, Roosh V had said: "The world is moving against us. I've gotten reports of over a dozen organised protests at our meeting points. Dozens more are being organized privately.
"Since this meetup was never intended as a confrontation with unattractive women and their enablers, I'm moving to save as many of these meetups as I can before Saturday so that men can still meet in private away from a loud, obnoxious, dishonest, and potentially violent mob."