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Al-QUDS DAY 2007

London, Sunday 7th October 2007


The last friday of Ramadan marks Al-Quds Day, Jerusalem Day, a day when people around the world stand with the oppressed in Palestine and elsewhere. For Muslims itís a practical application of what Ramadan is really about - brotherhood of the Ummah - the haves and the have-nots fasting together, the free and the oppressed standing together. They understand that in the same way that the poor have a right on the wealth of the rich and the wealthy have an obligation, a duty, towards the poor; so the oppressed have a right over the free and those of us who enjoy relative freedom have an obligation, a duty, towards the oppressed. This is the essence of Al-Quds Day.

Many Muslim and non-Muslim groups came together in support of Al-Quds Day. These included Crescent International, FOSIS, Friends of Al-Aqsa, Hizb-ut-Tahrir, Innovative Minds, Islamic Centre of England, Islamic Human Rights Commission, Muslim Association of Britain, Neturei Karta, Palestine Internationalist, Palestine Return Centre, Respect Party, and the 1990 Trust.

Listen to the advert we placed in the many Ramadan radio stations that spring up during this month up and down the country.

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In the West for practical reasons Al-Quds Day is usually held on the sunday following the friday, this year it was held on 7th October. For the first time in many years the weather on Al-Quds Day was wonderful (for London) - dry and relatively warm. We assembled at Marble Arch around 12:30.

There were stalls selling the essentials for any decent activist to kit out in - Palestinian and Hizbullah flags, caps and badges; and the popular "Free Palestine" T-shirts from the IHRC.

There were stacks of placards to choose from - different sizes, different messages - something for everyone.

Calls against oppression and for justice always bring together the best of people. There were the Muslims - from all schools of thought, Jews - both secular and ultra-orthodox, Christians, socialists, secularists.. There were mothers with babies, young children, and the elderly - some in wheelchairs. It was a wonderful atmosphere, people from very different backgrounds mingling together exchanging experiences, sharing their perspectives, shattering prejudice, all united with the Palestinian people against Israeli aggression and occupation.

The Rabbis from the Neturei Karta, as always, were present in large numbers. They presented a great practical opportunity for Muslim parents to explain to their children that whilst most of the zionists occupying Palestine are Jews and that they claim to kill and expel Palestinians in the name of their religion in order to create an exclusively Jewish state, this is not the case and that we do not opposes Jews or Judaism, that there are a great many Jews who stand with us against the zionists, that zionism is a form of racism and has nothing to do with Judaism which is a divinely revealed religion which we as Muslims deeply respect.

Zionism is Racism - the photo on the placard shows a Palestinian home in Hebron daubed in zionist graffiti - "Kill Arabs!". The photo was taken by a Christian Peacemakers Team that visited Hebron in May 2002. Other zionist graffiti they photographed included "Arabs to the gas chambers!", "Exterminate the Muslims!" and on a Palestinian womens house "Watch out Fatima - We will rape all Arab women!". Please visit their website for these and more. The graffiti is part of an organised campaign to terrorize the indigenous Palestinian population of Hebron in to fleeing, and thereby ethnically cleaning the land ready for zionist colonisation - an essential requirement of zionist ideology of guaranteeing ethnic supremacy in a Jewish state.

After saying our Zuhr prayers at around 1:15pm we choose our banners and flags in preparation for the march.

One of the themes running through his years Al-Quds Day was the Sabra-Shatila massacre - this September marked its 25th anniversary. To this day on one has been brought to justice for that crime of slaughtering over 3000 women and children in those refugee camps. Instead the chief perpetrator has been elevated with the title "man of peace". For a deeply moving eye-witness account of the massacre please listen to the talk given by Dr Ang Swee Chai who was working at the hospital between the two refugee camps at the time of the massacre.

Quds Day - "No one can be at peace unless he has his freedom" - Malcolm X. After its success last year the same central Quds Day banner was used again. For more about the Malcolm X quote please read last yearís Quds Day report. During the march a couple of afro-Caribbean ladies upon seeing the banner were moved and felt they couldn't just let it pass. They asked us about the demonstration before requesting if they could join us and march under the words of Malcolm X.

Around 1:30pm we finally left Marble Arch heading down Park Lane. With coaches coming from as far as Scotland, Manchester and Birmingham the turnout was great, better than last yearís when we had to deal with non-stop showers and freezing temperature. This year they even had to turn away people in Manchester as there was no more room left on the coaches coming from Manchester.

Tip of the march leaving Marble Arch down Park Lane

Thousands of people from all faiths and none marching through the streets of London in solidarity with Palestine - a wonderful sight! The chanting was loud and lively, listen to some samples below.

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Among the banners and placards were images of the founder of Al-Quds Day - Imam Khomeini (RA). Imam Khomeini always believed that the victory of the Islamic Revolution was a victory for all oppressed people in the world and that oppressed people everywhere should benefit from this victory. One of the first actions he ordered was to place sanctions against the two apartheid regimes of South Africa and Israel. At the time Iran, under US control, had been the main supplier of crude oil to both these regimes fulfilling most of their oil requirements - overnight they lost their main source of crude oil - it hit them hard. According to the United Nations Centre against Apartheid (30th January 1981) this action alone by Imam Khomeini made an effective oil embargo against South Africa feasible for the very first time.

On the first Ramadan after the victory of the Islamic Revolution, on 16th August 1979, Imam Khomeini declared the last friday of the holy month as Al-Quds Day - a day for solidarity with the oppressed, in particular with the oppressed in Palestine. To this day, nearly 30 years later, Muslims and non-Muslims everywhere observe Quds Day. This has hurt the zionist regime, and it is actively working to stop the practice of observing Al-Quds Day worldwide.

In recent years students unions have been pressured in to removing Al-Quds Day from their calendars, and now with the beating of the drums of war against Iran the zionists are painting Al-Quds day as just an Iranian affair, having nothing to do with Palestine in the hope of getting it banned in the West. Thus this yearís Al-Quds Day demonstration in London saw a pathetic counter-demo of around a dozen people assembled at Piccadilly Circus. For a full report on the counter-demo please click here.

We reached Trafalgar Square around 3pm. Nazim warmed the crowds up with chanting in preparation for a series of inspiring speeches. After the recitation of the Holy Quran, we were treated to Sheikh Bahmanpour from the Islamic Centre England. He exposed the fallacy of peace processes which are engineered to uphold Israeli supremacy and bring nothing but false hope to Palestinians. He explained the two state solution was doomed to failure because it did not take in to consideration justice - it left in place an apartheid state - you cannot have justice and peace with apartheid and racism. He explained that the only solution was a single state for all - Muslims, Jews and Christians to live together without apartheid.

Following him, Rabbi Cohen, an anti-zionist Rabbi from the Neturei Karta, addressed the crowd. He spoke of the hardship the Palestinians are facing due to the zionist occupation. He explained that the zionist state had no right to exist and was totally against Judaism.

Taji Mustapha from Hizbut-Tahrir explained how occupiers, be they in Palestine or Iraq, find new ways to maintain the occupation - they try to divide the resistance by putting Shia against Sunni and Hamas against Fatah so instead of facing the occupiers they face each other.

Peace activist Yvonne Ridley talked about Israelís deliberate targeting of Palestinian children. She gave human faces to the statistics be sharing several examples of targeted murder of children including the case of Bushra Bargis who was shot dead by an Israeli sniper whilst she was at home in her bedroom studying for exams.

George Galloway explained that last summerís victory by Hizbullah over Israel was a victory for all free people everywhere by quoting Che Guevara words - "We tremble with indignation at injustice against any people anywhere.. there are no frontiers in this struggle.. an injustice to one is an injustice to all.. a defeat by imperialism in one place is a defeat for all of us.. and a victory against imperialism in any place is a victory to us all". It was the 40th anniversary of his execution my US propped henchmen.

The event concluded with a few words from the chairman of the Islamic Human Rights Commission, Massoud Shadjareh. He thanked all the people attending on behalf of the organisers and he thanked the organising groups on behalf of the people.

This elderly lady was collecting placards and banners at the end of the rally so that she could reuse them at her picket outside Marks and Spencers. We can all learn something from her commitment and dedication to the struggle for justice in Palestine.

Below are summary quotes from each speaker and full MP3s of all the speeches, intros and in-betweens. For those that like to listen to the speeches on their mp3 players, all are downloadable and are organized as an album of 11 tracks, each with its own embedded album art.

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Quran Recitation

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Ghazba-Zadeh, The rally commenced with a recitation from the Holy Quran..

Stop the killing Israel

"Apartheid is dead, you cannot have justice and peace with apartheid. Racism is dead, you cannot have justice and peace with racism.
The zionist regime is the materialisation, is the epitome of racism and apartheid"

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Sheikh Bahmanpour, Islamic Centre England, perhaps the keynote address of the rally he covered most of what needed to be said. Although its little long, its important so we have included it in full:

"In the name of God, the Gracious, the Merciful.

I just want to cover a few points very quickly:

1. We donít need peace process in Palestine. What we need is peace. Peace process is a prolonged process, itís a decoy, just a machination to prevent peace in Palestine and what we have seen in the past few decades of peace process have been just failures, have been machinations of big powers to support Israel with a process which gives illusion and wrong hope to people of Palestine. So what we need in Palestine is not peace process, is peace.

2. Whether a peace process or a true peace, it could not be brokered by the main culprits in the region - by the United States and Britain. Putting Tony Blair in charge of negotiations in the Middle-East is just like putting Shatan on judging righteous people - itís impossible that people like Tony Blair, that governments like United States could broker a peace in Palestine whilst they are the main supporters of Israel. This is the most funny thing that we could ever witness in the world of politics.

3. A peace could not be obtained without the presence of Hamas and those real Palestinians who are fighting and resisting for their freedom. To exclude Hamas from the peace negotiations in Palestine would only end in failure. There will be no peace until and unless you could bring the true people of Palestine on board. If you say that Hamas is a terrorist organisation, we want to declare here, now and today that we are all Hamas, we are all Hizbullah. Anyone saying that Hamas or Hizbullah is a terrorist organisation is just dubbing everyone, every Muslim around the world to be a terrorist. And how come Hamas and Hizbullah are terrorist organisations and not american army or british army who are making the most bloodshed around the world - how we could not say that they are terrorist organisations? You have the blood of more than 700,000 Iraqis just in the past few years on your hands and you still dub other people to be terrorists, and yourselves as supporters of human life and human blood - this is something that people would laugh at you when you say it!

4. For peace there are solutions, for peace there are mechanisms. A two state solution in Palestine would not lead to peace, the two state solution is not a solution - itís just a humiliation, itís just a prolongation of peace process which never arrives at anything. So we declare here that any peace solution which wants to create two different states in Palestine is doomed to failure. This is not only a view, itís not only a perspective, this is a reality - what we have seen during the past few decades. Moreover, what do they means by two states? The y mean the state of Israel and a marginalised area of land in which all Palestinians are pushed inside it with humiliation. A state.. something like a state.. what they call a state which is completely surrounded by Israel, their electricity, their water, their economy - everything is in the hands of Israel, and they want to call it a state. How could this be a state at all?

Itís impossible to go for a two state solution and expect peace to materialise. Peace would not materialise unless there is justice, and this two state solution would not bring justice to Palestine, would not do justice to anyone in the area. We want justice not only for Muslims in the area - we want justice for Palestinians - Muslim Palestinians, we want justice for Jewish Palestinians and we want justice for Christian Palestinians, and this would not materialise with a two state solution.

Apartheid is dead. You cannot have justice and peace with apartheid. Racism is dead, you cannot have justice and peace with racism. The zionist regime in Israel is the materialisation, is the epitome of racism and apartheid. How do you want to create peace and justice with such a state? The only solution for peace in Palestine is one state solution. One state in which Muslims, Jews, and Christians have equal and free right to vote, to have their own government installed and in place. And I tell you, and you can remember this - so long as this would not happen you will not see peace in Palestine, and consequently you will not see peace in the world.

Palestine is a place which has become like the heart of the world politics. If you do not have peace in Palestine, you do not have peace in the world. You have all these trouble that you see nowadays around the world. So itís not possible to have calm and tranquillity around the world in the world politics unless you could solve the issue of Palestine. And as I said, this issue is not solved through the two state solution, only the one state solution is a solution.

And what do we mean by a one state solution? It is a state with one government - not a racist government. With a government in which all Muslims, Jews, and Christians have their say. Of course the zionists would not like this, the US administration would not like this, the British administration would not like this, because they would lose lots of vested interests there. But I tell you, you would lose more interests in the war than in peace. You might lose some immediate interests with peace in Palestine, in the Middle-East, in the area, but in the long run this is going to be in the benefit of all people around the world.

So as long as this one state solution is not in place, so long as the peace is not directed towards the one state solution, there would be no peace in Palestine, there would be no peace in the region, and there would be no peace in the world. So what we back here today is one Palestine, one unified Palestine in which everyone can live free and with their own human dignity and rights. And this would ask for one very important condition, and that is the right of return for Palestinians to go back to their country and have the right of an honourable human being to live there equal with others. bring back the Palestinians to Palestine, break apartheid and racism, have one government for Christians, Jews, and Muslims there and you will see peace there and peace around the world - long live Palestine!"

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"The root cause of the strife in the Middle-East is the very existence of the Zionist state"

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Rabbi Cohen, Neturei Karta (anti-zionist Jews). After explaining how zionism has nothing to do with Judaism, we went on to condemn zionism as the root cause of our problems:

"We must remember that the root cause of the strife in the Middle-East is the very existence of the zionist state.

Very interesting, I was recently reading a report - and everyone can read it, it's printed in Hansard which is the official report of the proceeding of the House of Commons and the House of Lords. I was reading a report of a debate that took place in June 1922 on a motion that the British Mandate as it was set up, which was to help form a zionist state in Palestine, was flawed - the whole idea was flawed. And the speakers there, it was moved by a Lord Islington, and he was so wise, he spoke then 80-90 years ago, he saw and the other speakers saw so clearly the problem that would arise out of Zionism. And you know that motion, that the whole mandate in the form that it was, was flawed, was carried by a very large majority. But of course the constitution of this country is such that the House of Commons can override the House of Lords, and they did override them.

So once again, the underlying cause of strife in the Middle-East is the very existence of the zionist state, in the form in which it exists as our previous speaker said so clearly, and we can only pray for an early, speedy and peaceful total dismantlement of the zionist state of Israel. To be replaced by a regime entirely in accordance with the aspirations of the Palestinian people, and in which Jew, Arab, Muslim and Christian, anybody would be able to live side by side in peace and harmony as they did for centuries in all the Arab lands before the advent of Zionism."

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"The issue of Palestine is an issue of occupation - not negotiation! When you have occupation the need is a need for liberation"

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Taji Mustapha, of Hizbut-Tahrir made a very important call for unity which was very well received.

"The issue of Palestine is an issue of occupation - not negotiation! And when you have occupation the need is a need for liberation! Palestine need liberation from a brutal occupation of the zionist state..

And when you have occupation and need liberation the occupiers find new ways, new tactics, new means to maintain the occupation. Now they try to divide the resistance in the occupied lands. In Iraq they put Shia against Sunni so instead of facing the occupiers we face one another; in Palestine Hamas against Fatah, instead of facing the israeli state to face one another. And here in Britain if we speak up against the occupation of Palestine, or Iraq or Afghanistan they say you are a fanatic, you are an extremist, you are a fundamentalist. They divide the Muslim community in to moderates - those who are silent - silent about the atrocities in Palestine, silent about the occupation of Iraq - and they say those that speak out are the extremists.

.. one of the issues that unites the Muslim Ummah, the Ummah of Muhammad SAW, is the issue of Palestine, the issue of Palestine unites the Muslim ummah. The land of Isra and Meraj, the land of the first qibla of the Muslim Ummah, the holy lands. and so my message today is for Palestine to be liberated the Muslim Ummah must unite. For Palestine to be liberated the Muslim Ummah must unite. In our unity lies strength, so my brothers do not heed the calls of disunity, reject the disunity of Muslims when they put Shia against Sunni - we are brothers, we reject it. When they put Hamas against Fatah, we are brothers we reject disunity.."

The child resisting the tank is Faris Odeh (see Galloways speech).

"The ones targeted in the cross hairs of the Zionist cowards are Palestinian children"

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Sr.Yvonne Ridley, Peace Activist

"I wonder how many of you know that the theme for israels 60th independence day celebrations is dedicated to children? Its hard to imagine isn't it when you consider how the israeli army snipers target, deliberately target children. Of course they don't just target any children, no the ones targeted in the cross hairs of the zionist cowards are Palestinian children. Just how twisted do you have to be to gun down a child deliberately? And the same twisted killers dare hold the 60th anniversary of the failed zionist state in honour of children! And I wonder which children they are honouring. The ones slaughtered by the brutal zionist army? In the last year 457 Palestinians and 10 Israelis have been killed. Of those killed 92 were children - all Palestinian children. One fifth of the dead were children and teenagers - an unprecedented number even by israels disgusting standards. These children were gunned down as they studied for exams, as they climbed trees, as they played in the streets.."

She went on to give several example of Palestinian children murdered by israeli troops including:

"I want you to consider the case of Muhammad al-zak who was known as the boy from Gaza who was buried twice. He was 14 when he died three days before he was due to go back to the school. His fragile body blown apart in an operation called "locked kindergarden" - you couldn't make it up! Five children died in that particular operation. His father identified his sonsí torso and legs from the cloths and his remains were buried. Then a few days later his bereaved father found the remaining part of his son after the israeli army had left the area and another burial had to be held.."

Israel don't starve them! End the blockage!

It is because of the Israeli dream that the rest of the world lives in a nightmare

Nazim brought a smile to George Gallowayís face as he introduced him with a modified national anthem..

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"Faris Odeh is our leader,
Hassan Nasrallah is our leader.."

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George Galloway, Respect Party MP

"My denunciation, my indignation today is not so much against the imperialist leaders , not so much against the zionist leaders, they behave as they do because they are imperialists, because they are zionists. My indignation is to those belly dancers fasting today and in the casinos this evening, praying today and frolicking in the bordellos this evening. This is my indignation. These corrupt of the earth have the blood of all the Palestinians on their hands..

Last summer I did an interview early one sunday morning with hardly anyone watching on sky news at the height of the war in Lebanon. It was a critical mass, I was very angry, the sky presenter was very stupid, and the struggle in Lebanon was at its height. This woman on sky knew the name and the rank and the serial number and the address and the family history of every israeli soldier who had been taken by the fighters in Palestine and Lebanon - she knew them all as if they were her personal friends! But when I asked her if she could name one, just one victim, one Palestinian victim, one Lebanese victim - even a first name would do - she could not. Because as i said to her the blood of Palestinans and the blood of Lebanese is worth less to you than the blood of an Israeli or a Britisher, or an American! This is a self evident truth and we have to work so that this little boy on this poster - Faris Odeh - confronting an israeli tank is famous throughout the world, so that every Muslim knows his name, every believer knows his name, every person who loves freedom knows his name. We have no leaders in the Muslim world - Faris Odeh is our leader, Hassan Nasrallah is our leader, Hugo Chavez is our leader, Fidel Castro is our leader, Che Guevara is our leader, anyone who fights for liberty and freedom are our leaders!

"We stand shoulder to shoulder with all oppressed people in the world"

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Massoud Shadjareh, Islamic Human Rights Commission

"I pray that inshallah we will see not only Palestine free, but all the oppressed people free - all the oppressed people! Let me remind you today is the day of Al-Quds, its a day we stand shoulder to shoulder with all oppressed people in the world against all the oppressors, while we see in Palestine all the world leaders are standing shoulder to shoulder with the oppressors against the Palestinians whilst they are suffering on a daily basis - we do exactly the opposite.."

"We are on the side of the oppressed which-ever pole they may be in.
Palestinians are oppressed by the Israelites, therefore we side with them."
- Imam Khomeini

Al-Quds Day Video (41mins)

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