Around 15,000 protestors marched through central London in solidarity with Palestine yesterday, with speakers calling for an end to the Israeli regime.
The Islamic Human Rights Commission, which organised the march, said record numbers attended the annual Al-Quds Day rally which took place weeks after Masjid Al Aqsa was attacked by Israeli forces.
They joined millions of other demonstrators engaging in similar action all across the globe, with the aim of empowering the Palestinian cause and condemning Zionism.
Protestors congregated at the Home Office before marching to Downing Street where a rally was held, and was addressed by speakers from different faith, non-faith and political backgrounds.
Speakers denounced the Israeli apartheid system and the ongoing oppression of the Palestinians.
Huda Ammori is the co-founder of Palestine Action, whose direct action protests forced the closure of several sites belonging to the Israeli arms manufacturer Elbit Systems in the UK.
She said: “Just a week or so ago we saw the Israeli military attack and arrest 400 Palestinians for praying at Al Aqsa Mosque during the holy month of Ramadan. They beat our brothers and sisters and then they attacked the people of Gaza, who even David Cameron… described as the world’s largest open air prison. It is one of the most densely populated areas on earth where the majority of the people are children, and the majority of people are refugees who have already been displaced from other parts of Palestine.”
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Farrah Koutteineh is the founder of KEY48, a campaign calling for the immediate right of return of all Palestinian refugees.
She said: “What’s happening now in Palestine didn’t start this Ramadan or last Ramadan, it’s been happening for every one of the last 75 years. It’s happened every single day that the Israeli settler colony has existed and Palestinians will continue to be victim to that violence for as long as the Israeli settler colony continues to exist. If Israel’s existence is on the rubble of Palestinian villages it has destroyed, and the native Palestinians it has murdered, then Israel has no right to exist.”
Political rapper Lowkey said: “We must contextualise what is happening at Al Aqsa. The Israeli regime through the Ministry of Culture and the Ministry of Education funds several organisations which have the explicit intention of the destruction of the two masjids at Al Aqsa and the replacing of them with a temple. This is not an immediate plan but this is something that these organisations have been working for from at least since 2008…
“We have to be realistic, these acts are not random and they are not irrational… so when you see people attacked and stopped from performing i’tikaf, what is actually happening is that Israel is establishing the safe passage for these settler groups that have the explicit intention of breaking down those structures.”
And Massoud Shadjareh, chairman of the Islamic Human Rights Commission, said: “I know most of you are fasting but this is the spirit we need to make sure we see the end of this abomination, this regime of Zionist apartheid. Around 25 or 30 years ago if you said that this regime is going to be gone, people would be thinking: ‘Are you serious?” But now everybody knows that this regime is going and is on its last legs.
“The only question is what are we going to do to make it happen soon rather than later? And also what do we want to replace it with? We want to replace it with a system that Muslims, Christians, Jews, everyone, is actually free, honoured and empowered.”
Meanwhile, a group of some 20 Zionists held a small counter-rally yesterday, with one counter-protestor arrested.
Initiated by Iran in 1979, International Al Quds Day is an annual event held on the last Friday of Ramadan. However, in recent years it has come under attack from critics including European lawmakers who wish to see the event banned.
Pro-Israel activists say the march is antisemitic – an accusation dismissed by organisers and attendees, including anti-Zionist religious Jews.
So far efforts to ban the procession here in London have remained fruitless.