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The most recent demonstration in support of Palestine in London will occur on Saturday, November 11th. The march aims to demand an immediate end to the violent conflict between Israel and Gaza that began last month.
The six groups responsible for organizing the protest were urged by the Metropolitan Police to delay their National March for Palestine because it could potentially conflict with remembrance events during Armistice Weekend. However, the Met’s commissioner, Sir Mark Rowley, ultimately approved the demonstration.
Sir Mark stated on Wednesday that the laws set by Parliament are unambiguous and do not grant the authority to prohibit protests. He also noted that the protesters have demonstrated their full cooperation in avoiding the Cenotaph and Whitehall, and have no desire to disrupt national remembrance events.
The prime minister, Rishi Sunak, has reiterated his disapproval of the protest, deeming it to be disrespectful. He stated that the commissioner has assured him that he will ensure the safety of the public while also preserving remembrance for the country this weekend. As the prime minister, it is his responsibility to hold the commissioner accountable for this.
Activists will march from Marble Arch in Hyde Park at around 12pm on Saturday, heading south through the city on Vauxhall Bridge Road. They will then cross the River Thames to reach the US Embassy on Nine Elms Lane. This protest is in opposition to US president Joe Biden’s consistent backing of the Israeli military’s actions in response to the Hamas attacks on October 7th, resulting in 1,400 deaths and 200 hostages.
The event coordinators have emphasized multiple times that their starting location is a minimum of two miles away from the Cenotaph in Whitehall, which is the central location for this weekend’s memorial services. The event will also begin long after the national two-minute silence on Saturday, which is meant to honor Britain’s fallen soldiers, has ended.
On Monday, the Metropolitan Police’s deputy assistant commissioner Ade Adelekan stated: “There is an increasing risk of violence and chaos associated with splinter groups.”
“We are concerned about the upcoming busy weekend in the capital. We strongly urge organizers to reconsider and refrain from holding any protests in London during this time.”
On Monday evening, Suella Braverman, the home secretary, praised his statement on X (formerly known as Twitter). She stated, “The hate marchers must realize that the British citizens are fed up with these acts of violent bullying and extremism.”
A representative for the Prime Minister also conveyed Downing Street’s disapproval of the timing, stating: “We observed instances of hateful actions at the previous protests, resulting in arrests for inciting racial hatred. However, it is still within people’s rights to peacefully express their opinions within the boundaries of the law.”
Organizing demonstrations during Armistice Day is inflammatory and shows a lack of respect. Is it appropriate to deface memorials or use these important days to express racial animosity, as seen in the recent arrests? I believe that would be deeply offensive to the citizens of Britain.
The organizers of the National March for Palestine, the Palestinian Solidarity Campaign, have addressed criticism by stating that they are concerned about government officials, including the prime minister, making statements that imply the march is a danger to the Cenotaph and intended to interfere with Remembrance Day ceremonies.
These statements are fueling the urging of far-right activists and commentators who seem to be provoking violence on the streets to suppress the ongoing protests, which is highly irresponsible.
Based on the previous statements made by the home secretary to vilify anyone who shows support for the rights of the Palestinian people, it is evident that these additional statements are driven by a goal to silence the widespread public backing for an end to Israel’s bombing of Gaza’s citizens.