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Biggest anti-US march in London
|London : Despite all the hidden and not so hidden pressures from British and American anti-Saddam propaganda, the protest on September 28 by more than 400,000 people against US cum UK’s threat of military action against Iraq and also the Israeli occupation of Palestinian lands was one of the rarest sights of the display of the innate goodness which the Almighty has blessed human beings with.
The protest organised by ‘Stop the War’ coalition and Muslim Association of Britain was participated by men, women of all ages and even children of different religious, ideological and ethnic backgrounds who had converged in London from various parts of the country.
As I and my two sons, 12 and 14, came out of the Embankment Tube Station, from where the protest march was started, a socialist worker, an Englishman named Leon approached me and asked to sign an anti-war petition while a police helicopter hovered above us. "See this wastage. It costs £7,000 per hour which could better be spent on saving human lives and combating misery around the world." He said, "I have been active in politics for the last 15 years and have never seen such a unity of human beings".
As far as one could see there was a tide of human beings. Walking next to me was a young family, Mrs Frost, her husband, and a ten-year-old son from Buckinghamshire. "I am not a politician. I am simply a housewife. I have come to show my anger against this injustice and selfishness. This war is nothing but greed for oil and resources." Mrs Frost said. Rejecting British Government’s dossier against Iraq she said, "I do not believe a bit of it. If they are fair let them force Israel to leave Palestinian lands and then the world would deal with Saddam. This is all hypocrisy." Walking side-by-side was the Ahmed family, father, hijab-wearing mother and two sisters and three young brothers. "We are not here to show our support for Saddam but to protest against the uncalled for threats by the super bully, the US to Iraq and Israeli policies in the occupied lands", said A-level student Sana Ahmed.
Raising banners with messages "Drop sanctions not bombs", "War: Not in my name", the protesters shouted anti US and anti Israeli slogans like "George Bush we know you, Daddy was a killer too". "Sharon Sharon you will see Palestine will be free", "One two three four occupation no more, five six seven eight Israel is a fascist state". They also carried a number of cartoons in one of which British Prime Minister was shown as a poodle with a leash in George Bush’s hand.
As the marchers reached Parliament Square, amid a group of white people I saw a bearded shalwar kameez clad middle aged man shouting "one two three four" and every one responding "occupation no more". Only after a few slogans, without realising who were the people responding to his slogans, he shouted Allahu Akbar and, as could be expected, there was no response. I wondered whether this Muslim brother would have become a lesser Muslim if he had taken into consideration the atmosphere and the crowd around him.
The protesters distributed leaflets asking the participants to boycott Jewish companies, the list of which is being displayed on MG’s web site for months – a phenomenon which was unthinkable even a few weeks ago in the UK and an act that could have earned you the title of an anti-Semitic and thus a great sinner.
Politicians who addressed the rally included London Mayor Ken Livingstone, former Labour MP Tony Benn and former United Nations weapons inspector Scott Ritter.
Mr Livingstone described the march as the largest "march for peace I have seen in 30 years." Addressing the crowd Labour MP George Galloway said that the message was clear, "Mr Blair is not going to be speaking in our name if he brings our country into a war." He said that it was the duty of Labour Party Conference delegates to take "ignition keys away from Mr Blair".
Tony Benn said, "Although when the bloodshed begins, if it does, criminal responsibility for what has happened will rest with those who have taken that decision, there is a share of responsibility with us as well".
¯ M Ghazali Khan