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Protesters swamp Edgware Road in Gaza protest

PUBLISHED: 13:12 08 January 2009 | UPDATED: 15:46 07 September 2010

Demonstration in Edgware Road

Demonstration in Edgware Road

THOUSANDS of demonstrators took to the streets at the weekend in protest at the Israeli military offensive in Gaza. Half of Edgware Road was closed to traffic on Sunday as more than 2,500 people showed their anger with placards and chants. After marching

THOUSANDS of demonstrators took to the streets at the weekend in protest at the Israeli military offensive in Gaza.

Half of Edgware Road was closed to traffic on Sunday as more than 2,500 people showed their anger with placards and chants.

After marching southwards from St John's Wood, the protesters assembled outside Paddington Green police station at 2pm where radical Islamist group Hizb ut-Tahrir called on "muslim armies" to defend Gaza.

Supporters of the controversial political group then marched towards Marble Arch sporting banners labelling Arab leaders as "traitors" and calling for muslims to overthrow their political leaders to defend Palestine.

The demonstration denounced some muslim leaders for their alleged "collusion" with Israel and accused the UK and US governments of justifying Israel's actions.

Hibz ut-Tahrir UK chairman, Abdul Wahid, who spoke at the rally, said: "With more than 500 people killed, the Egyptian government continues its blockade of the Refah crossing on the border.

"The Arab dictatorships in the region have colluded with Israel on these massacres and the aim of the demonstration was to call for military intervention by the armies of these countries to defend the people of Gaza."

The main objective of Hizb ut-Tahrir - which translates as the "party of liberation" - is to establish a single Islamic state, or Caliphate, across the Middle East.

The group has generated strong opinions. Some observers believe it preaches hatred, while others see it as a victim of unjust allegations of connections to terrorism.

Other speakers who addressed the rally in Marble Arch included representatives of the Islamic Human Rights Commission and Moazzam Begg, who works for human rights organisation CAGE prisoners.

Mr Begg said: "I felt compelled to speak because I felt that what is taking place in Palestine cannot continue. My wife is of Palestinian origin so this issue is of personal importance to me. My message was to call upon Muslim countries around the world to defend the people of Gaza. It was about defence - the right of self-defence."

He hoped the protest would bring people together in solidarity with other protesters around the world. But he said the main objective was to "call on individuals within the armies in the Arab world to rise up in defence of Palestine".

A police spokeswoman confirmed that the march was peaceful and no arrests were made.

"The Metropolitan Police Service is committed to facilitating lawful demonstration," she said.

"We would urge anyone who wants to hold a protest in the future to come and work with us so we can ensure that their demonstration passes off safely and they can make their views known."

The protest followed a demonstration on Saturday which saw 12,000 people march through central London to call for a halt to the military offensive.

The march was peaceful and well-organised but 12 arrests were made after a splinter group staged a violent protest outside the Israeli Embassy.

The small minority of demonstrators threw objects at officers, pulled apart police barrier lines and used the barriers to throw at police.


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