I went into London today to see what was happening regarding the expected counter protests to the annual Al Quds Day parade.
Al Quds is the name some Arabs give Jerusalem. The Ayatollah Khomeni of Iran declared 30 odd years ago that the last Friday in Ramadan was to be Al Quds day, when Muslims theworld over are to express their hatred of Israel and their love for the Palestinian Arabs. The ones they keep in camps rather than integrate them into their own respective countries.
This year the English Defence League said they intended to mount a counter demonstration, concerned at the promotion and possible involvement in previous years of Hizbollah and/or Hamas.
In previous years the demonstration ended with a rally in Trafalgar Square. This year they were only allowed to gather for speeches in Waterloo Place a small square just off Pall Mall. The organisers expressed outrage and blame the authorities for capitulating to the counter demonstrators.
The Mayor of London’s office say this is not so and the decision was made far in advance of notice of any counter-demonstration. The reason given is that the Al Quds Day demonstration lack the Public Liability Insurance for Trafalgar Square and the Greater London Authority will no longer underwrite this requirement for them.
The march was to assemble at Marble Arch, proceed down Park Lane (where they would pass the 7th July memorial, into Piccadilly, round Piccadilly Circus into Haymarket and then Waterloo Place.
The EDL announced that they would be meeting at Piccadilly Circus.
When I arrived an organisation against the regime in Iran was setting up around the steps and the stature of Eros. The police had set crush barriers around but there was still public access in and out. I went for a walk about and when I came back the police had confined the members of the English Defence League on the steps of the Criterion Theatre. (Now showing a revival of the 39 Steps) They were then escorted into the same enclosure around the Iranian group and the two groups began to mingle chatting and arranging their posters. They shook hands and pictures were taken together.
Some of the EDL had brought their sons and a little Iranian girl in emerald green face paint and matching ribbons on her pigtails gave me a flyer.
‘We are gathering in protest and prayers in support of the Iranian people. . . a peaceful protest to show the beauty of the Iranian people versus the brutality of the despotic regime . . free all citizens . . . students, journalists, people of other faiths who have been unjustly imprisoned”.
On the other side were pictures of the death of Neda Soltaini and other victims including the murdered Taraneh Mousavi.
The portrait picture of Neda Soltani was prominent on the railings. They waved green flags and a banner which read “United Nations start taking action Iran wants democracy”, above a picture of a dove.
For some reason the police then escorted the members of the EDL away, and brought them back about an hour later. In the meantime I followed the sound of sirens, shouting and running reporters. This was the Stop the BNP demonstration being contained by the police at the bottom of Regent Street. The placards said “Stop the fascist BNP” but the chant sounded to me like “Stop the f***king BNP”. And, “Auschwitz, Auschwitz, never again”. The police moved them on into Haymarket and further down Waterloo Place. I didn’t see them again.
I returned to Piccadilly Circus and found a good viewpoint immediately opposite the two groups around Eros (Correct name the Shaftsbury memorial)
An England flag was produced and later a Union Jack. There were chants of the national football team chant, England, England. That was all I heard them shout above the drums and whistles of the Al Quds. The press report here that they also called to the Al Quds demonstrators "March for England" and "English and we're proud of it".
As the demonstration came up Piccadilly they arranged themselves that the EDL were at the front along the crush barrier with the Iranians behind them raised up on the steps around Eros. As the demonstration moved round the circus they moved so that the Iranians were facing me to my right and the EDL to my left.
The traffic was stopped, the route picked out in white tape and the police lined up. The officers near me were unfailingly good humoured to every tourist who asked “What’s going on?”
The first banner had a quotation from Malcolm X, as did several of the placards. There were green and yellow flags, Palestinian flags and, as you can see from the photographs placards saying “We are all Hizbollah” “We are all Hamas” and “Boycott Israel”. Young girls in jilbabs gave out flyers explaining that we must not buy medjool dates and jaffa oranges because they bankroll the suffering of little Zainab.
s As the demonstrators came past the Iranian Democrats they all turned and shouted at them, waving their flags and posters, pointing, shaking their fists.
Later I note that a Guardian video caught cries of "No Sharia", "Muslim bombers off our streets", specifically bombers you note, not all Muslims, and an Israeli flag.
After the demonstration had passed, the Iranians melted away. I went for a cup of tea and got back in time to see the EDL behaving in a very orderly manner being escorted by the police up Shaftsbury Avenue probably towards Tottenham Court Road station.
I could hear amplified shouting and went to see what was happening at the Waterloo Place rally. I was in time to hear Yvonne Ridley.
“We all passed Piccadilly” she screamed. “We saw and heard the racists, and the fascists, and the BNP”
No you didn’t.
Miss Ridley, I know you read this site.
You were wrong. A barefaced lie.
I was there at Piccadilly. I saw no fascism. I heard no racism.
I saw men and women from England and Iran standing shoulder to shoulder protesting against the oppression of the Islamic regime in Iran and determined that no such oppression, no submission, no sharia, will reign in my homeland.
I wasn’t wasting any more of my time listening to a fool.
I went home.
Thank you for what i call a fairly acurate report on the day. As the activities organiser of March for England i can assure your readers there where no racist comments made on the protest. This was not a rcist protest but a protest against the extremist Hizb-ut-Tahrir and Hezbollah marching on our streets.
We met in Whitehall at 12 on the Day on my arival i was questioned by the Police. during the next hour and half we had about 100 of us in the pub. This was made up of MfE,EDL and UBA. We went to leave the pub at 1.30PM and where met by a wall of Police. Escorted up to where the counter protest was due to take place. The Police tried to pin us against a wall and search us usintg the section 60 law. Some made a break for it leaving 30 or so to be held in a pen. A few phone calls and we had regrouped in a pub in a side street. The others in the pen managed to slip off and join us. After an hour the Police found us and sealed us in and used the section 60 laws again. After being held for half an hour we where escorted back to the pen by vans and overwhelming Police from Tactical support (riot police) We still managed to have a few on both sides of the road while the bulk of us where held in a pen for 2 hours without water or bieng let out to use tiolets. Your report sums up the rest of the day.
Few more comming up. Our next one is a Rememberance parade to honour all our fallen heroes from WW1,WW2 up till the present day. We will be laying wreaths at Cenataph,Womens War Mamorial and lastly at the Gurkhas Mamorial.
"The Guardian . . . reported you had shouted "
Not me personally - I wasn't with them, I was on the other side of the road observing.
But I know exactly what you mean - that Iranian group, with all their information about Neda Soltani and the other victims who died in prison didn't merit any mention from the media whatsoever.
I'll have a look at the other site - thanks for the suggestion.
Be great if you could cross post your citizen journalism here.
FYI The Guardian ran an article on this and reported you had shouted racism about muslims or somesuch nonsense (completely uncredited of course). They also cleverly cut to the Iranian democracy sign at the end as though it belonged to the QUDS group. Just thought you should know that our issue lies in the media. Poisionous bunch of liars and manipulators that they are.
Again - well done. Next time Ill come with you. I only found out about it yesterday. Sorry.
Neturei Karta Rabbi speaks out at Al Quds Day London Demo Sept 13 2009
Thank you Esmerelda for your coverage of this story. Your predictions that this would be an 'interesting' summer have unfortunately come to fruition.
John M. J.
Excellent Esme, absolutely excellent. Thank you for this report and for your courage in covering this event for all of us here. Having your independent assessment to balance against the biased media reports which will inevitably follow is a valuable thing and I cannot thank you enough.
Well done. I admire you and I stand in awe of your bravery in venturing into the middle of what could have been a very dangerous situation.
Miss Ridley, I know you read this site.
You were wrong. A barefaced lie.
But Sister Yvonne - the textbook classic case for Stockholm Syndome - speaks only muslim truth - and has absolutely no idea what you are talking about. When I ask these plus islamique que le prophete-converts their thoughts on this hadith about the perfect man and the model for all conduct they tell me I am an out-and-out racist:
|Tabari VIII:96||"A raiding party led by Zayd set out against Umm in Ramadan. During it, Umm suffered a cruel death. Zyad tied her legs with rope and then tied her between two camels until they split her in two. She was a very old woman. Then they brought Umm's daughter and Abdallah to the Messenger. Umm's daughter belonged to Salamah who had captured her. Muhammad asked Salamah for her, and Salamah gave her to him."|
I saw men and women from England and Iran standing shoulder to shoulder
As indeed they should - against sharia.
Well done for bringing your excellent, truthful, reporting and photographs to undermine the lies and distortions that will doubtless be spread - from all sides - about what happened.
Not sure yet what I think about the EDL, the new kid on the block. And of course there are divisions within it. But anyone who sides with Iranian opponents of sharia can't be automatically dismissed as "racist".