LONDON: Hundreds of thousands of demonstrators rallied in cities across Europe, the Middle East and Asia on Saturday to show support for the Palestinians.
In London, which saw one of the biggest marches, aerial footage showed large crowds marching through the centre of the British capital to demand the government of Prime Minister Rishi Sunak call for a halt to hostilities.
“The superpowers at play are not doing enough at the moment. This is why we’re here: we’re calling for a ceasefire, calling for Palestinian rights, the right to exist, to live, human rights, all our rights,” said protester Camille Revuelta.
“This is not about Hamas. This is about protecting Palestinian lives,” she added.
Echoing Washington’s stance, Rishi Sunak’s government has stopped short of calling for a ceasefire, and instead advocated “humanitarian pauses” to allow aid to reach Gaza.
Britain has supported Israel’s right to defend itself after the Oct 7 Hamas raid in Israel.
There has been strong support and sympathy for Israel from Western governments and many citizens over the Hamas raids, but the Israeli response has also prompted anger, particularly in Arab and other Muslim countries.
In Malaysia, a large crowd of demonstrators chanted slogans outside the US embassy in Kuala Lumpur.
A huge rally in the Turkish city of Istanbul also drew hundreds of thousands of people.
In the Israeli-occupied West Bank, Palestinian protesters took to the streets in Hebron, calling for a global boycott of Israeli products.
“Don’t contribute to the killing of the children of Palestine,” they chanted.
Elsewhere in Europe, people took to the streets of Copenhagen, Rome and Stockholm.
Some cities in France have banned rallies after the Oct 7 raid, fearing they could fuel social tensions, but despite a ban in Paris, a small rally took place on Saturday. Several hundred people also marched in the southern city of Marseille.
In New Zealand’s capital, Wellington, thousands of people holding Palestinian flags and placards reading “Free Palestine” marched to Parliament House.
In London, special restrictions were in place restricting protests around the Israeli embassy.
Saturday’s march was peaceful, but police said they had made two arrests, one along the march route after a police officer was assaulted and another on suspicion of a racially aggravated public order offence after a man was heard shouting racist remarks.
Police estimated the turnout at between 50,000 and 70,000 people.
London police have faced criticism in recent days for not being tougher over slogans shouted by some protesters during another pro-Palestinian march in the capital last week, which drew about 100,000 people.
Published in Dawn, October 29th, 2023