A “new masculine pick-up artist” who called for the legalisation of rape has cancelled a series of events in the UK following widespread condemnation.
Daryush Valizadeh, who calls himself Roosh V, pulled the plug on the events for “heterosexual men only” after claiming he could no longer guarantee the safety of those who wanted to attend.
The 36-year-old American was labelled as “absolutely repulsive” in parliament amid calls for him to be banned from the UK. The author of the Return of Kings blog has published 15 books on how to “pick up women” and posts tips on his website on how to “bang” women.
He said: “I can no longer guarantee the safety or privacy of the men who want to attend on 6 February, 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 meet-ups. The listing page has been scrubbed of all locations. I apologise to all the supporters who are let down by my decision.”
Protesters had called for the meetings to be banned and a petition lobbying the police and Home Office to ban the UK events has more than 55,000 signatures. Responding to an urgent question about the meetings, Home Office minister Karen Bradley said the government “condemns in the strongest terms anyone who condones rape and sexual violence or suggests that responsibility for stopping these crimes rests with the victims”.
The events had been planned for Edinburgh, Glasgow, London, Cardiff, Manchester, Newcastle, Leeds and Shrewsbury.
Shadow women and equalities minister Kate Green said there had been “widespread ridicule” as well as “revulsion” at the group’s “antics”.
She also asked Ms Bradley whether the group could be placed on the government’s list of banned organisations. Ms Bradley said the comments and views associated with Mr Valizadeh and the Return of Kings are “absolutely repulsive”.