The Palestine demonstration in London this Saturday will be huge. It will enrage home secretary Suella Braverman and send out a thunderous message of solidarity.
Hundreds of thousands of people will come from the capital, but there will also be huge numbers travelling from other towns and cities.
In some areas, the coach bookings are at levels not seen for 20 years. Yousuf Farooq is active in the Nottingham Palestine Solidarity Campaign and works with the Nottingham Council of Mosques.
He told Socialist Worker, “There are 11 coaches booked from Nottingham so far and we’re hoping for more. There has been nothing approaching this that I remember. We sent ten coaches to a demonstration for Kashmir in 2019, but not this many.”
Yousuf is too young to remember it, but in 2003 Nottingham sent 29 coaches to the 15 February march against the Iraq war. On that day two million marched. Perhaps Saturday can reach half that number—and everyone should strive to make that a reality.
Birmingham Stop The War Coalition tweeted, “We don’t know exactly how many coaches are going from Brum on Saturday for the #CeasefireNOW march but it’s a lot! No more coaches are available to hire.”
“People have seen the oppression and ethnic cleansing of the Palestinians,” he said. “They are saying enough is enough and directing their anger at the government but also the opposition. Keir Starmer is complicit in the war crimes as well.”
In an article in The Times newspaper on Thursday, Braverman said the police “play favourites” and apply a “double standard” to protests. She claimed right wingers faced “a stern response”, while “pro-Palestinian mobs” were “largely ignored”.
Playing on racism, Braverman complained that “lockdown objectors were given no quarter by public order police yet Black Lives Matters demonstrators were enabled, allowed to break rules”.
The home secretary said the pro-Palestinian marches had been “problematic” because of “violence around the fringes” as well as “highly offensive” chants, posters and stickers. She had earlier denounced people waving Palestinian flags or chanting, “From the river to the sea, Palestine will be free.”
Braverman went on to describe the marches as “an assertion of primacy by certain groups —particularly Islamists—of the kind we are more used to seeing in Northern Ireland”. In another baseless slur, she added, “Also, disturbingly reminiscent of Ulster are the reports that some of Saturday’s march group organisers have links to terrorist groups, including Hamas.”
Yousuf said, “Braverman’s comments are divisive, hateful and extremely dangerous. There are traits of fascism in what she says. These are peace marches, not hate marches, but Braverman is constantly looking to divide communities and she will encourage racism and the far right.”
Yousuf says all sorts of people will go from Nottingham to the demonstration but that “Muslim organisations have taken the lead. He said, “Islamophobia and Prevent are still very real, but Muslims are not prepared to be silenced by them. They are standing up for Palestine.”
Richard Buckwell, a Socialist Worker supporter in the city, said, “We’ve made a big effort to get a major turnout for London this time. It’s important as many people as possible are on the streets in the major national demo.
“Trade unionists are beginning to mobilise and there’s a new generation of activists. The left is also building the march.
“It costs over £1,000 for each coach to London. But people have been generous in supplying the funds. Collections at mosques have seen big amounts donated, and unions are coming through too.
“People want to be on the streets for Palestine—to march and to do more. The occupation of Nottingham train station last weekend saw hundreds take part who had been on the 2,000-strong demonstration. The best response to Braverman is to be on Saturday’s demonstration.”
Plus Top docs should reject pay offer
Israel has displaced some 1.7 million Gazans
Plus Deliveroo judgment, and anti-racist action in Wigan and Oxford