A crowd in London calls for “peace” for Gaza

A crowd (300,000 people, according to the authorities; 800,000, according to the organizers’ figures) walked through the streets of London this Saturday in solidarity with the Palestinian population under heavy police surveillance amid fears that the march would lead to clashes with hundreds of counterprotesters who also went to the capital, which celebrates this weekend the anniversary of the end of the First World War. The meeting where the ceasefire was called in Gaza passed “without incident,” the Police confirmed, although around a hundred citizens who opposed this demonstration ended up arrested for possession of weapons (knives, batons…) and narcotics or for their involvement in brawls. There were also arrests among those demanding peace for deviating from the agreed itinerary.

The pro-Palestinian march – the “largest” organized in London since October 7, the Met said – was in the spotlight for possible altercations after the British Government itself described it as “disrespectful” for having been called for the same purpose. of the week in which the armistice was commemorated. The controversial Minister of the Interior, Suella Braverman, raised the tone by talking about “hate” demonstrations and linking some organizers of this Saturday’s protest with terrorist groups, including Hamas. The concentration was authorized by the Police, who decided to deploy almost 2,000 officers.

The counter-protesters stood at the Whitehall Cenotaph, the government avenue where a solemn act in memory of the fallen is planned this Sunday, almost three hours before the rally in favor of the Palestinian people began, in which banners with messages were seen. as ‘Stop the bombing of Gaza’. At the beginning of the event, hundreds of far-rightists forced their way in and the police – “you are no longer English,” some exaltedly chanted at the officers – arrested more than ninety people “to prevent peace from being endangered” when “They were trying to get closer to the pro-Palestinian march.”

The phrases

Counter-protester, 45 years old

Corin

«The Government and the opposition are weak. “They have allowed anyone to enter and they will destroy the country, like Spain was destroyed, from within.”

Retired teacher, 76 years old

Alyson

«I have come to ask for a ceasefire. Let there be no more deaths. “I felt obliged to come, because there are so many people who want the war in Gaza to stop.”

On Tachbrook Street, about two hundred police managed to detain for hours on the sidewalks of an elegant neighborhood dozens of men dressed in black who were grouped in the Democratic Alliance of Football Guys and had met at a local pub. Corin, about 45 years old, seemed “angry.” “It’s supposed to be a free country, but we don’t have freedom of speech,” he said. «The Government and the opposition are weak. “They have allowed anyone to enter and they will destroy the country, as Spain was destroyed, from within,” he warned.

soccer fans

The group of football fans has been accused by the Premier League, Europe’s largest league, as a promoter of anti-Muslim acts in stadiums. They connect with other groups of extreme nationalism. “We are here to peacefully protect our monuments, but the Police have blocked us,” Corin responded. The agents stopped them on a street parallel to the road along which the pro-Palestinian march was advancing towards its end. The first chorus that could be heard at that moment was that of young boys and girls crying “peace right now!” Alyson, 76, a retired biology professor, stepped away from the crowd.

The Police made several arrests throughout the march.

The Police made several arrests throughout the march.

Justin Tallis/AFP


«I have come to ask for a ceasefire. Let there be no more deaths. I felt obliged to come, because there are so many people who want the war in Gaza to stop,” he explained. His opinion on the march was very different from Braverman’s. “I don’t agree with her, I think what he said is monstrous, because it is causing even greater division,” he assured, without hiding his concern about the effect that the destruction of this war will also have on the environment.

This Sunday, King Charles III will preside over the ceremony commemorating the peace of 1918, which mixes celebration and mourning. Floral offerings are laid at the Cenotaph and military bands play national anthems, military and classical music. When this weekend’s events are over, the British Government will have to respond to criticism, also within its own ranks, for having created unnecessary tensions.

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