‘You don’t need to be a Muslim to appreciate suffering’

‘You don’t need to be a Muslim to appreciate suffering’

by Amara Patel

There has been sporadic coverage of the ongoing conflict in Palestine within the mainstream media with one or two deaths making the national news.

image2‘Since the beginning of October, more than 1,100 Palestinians have been injured and 25 Palestinians have been killed. Most of those who have been killed are under the age of 25. In the last week, Israeli forces have injured over 50 Palestinian children.’ (FOA website 21/10/15)

Having had this brought to my attention, I felt compelled to attend the pro-Palestinian demonstration held at the Israeli Embassy in London on Saturday 17 October.

What seemed like a great cause felt less worthy as my alarm clock burst in to life in what seemed like the middle of the night. I dragged myself to the meeting point of our coach in anticipation of our 200 mile journey to London, only to find I was one of 5 women in a coach full of men.

image1Having left Yorkshire at the crack of dawn, we arrived in London for midday. The journey allowed me to catch up on my beauty sleep which I had so nobly forsaken for this worthy cause. Whilst I’ve been to demonstrations before, this felt different because I knew I was going to be writing about the gathering.

My initial thoughts as we reached the demonstration was that as demo’s go, this one was relatively small, numbering over 2000 people. However, what we lacked in numbers, we more than made up for in passion and energy. When I looked around me and spoke to my fellow protestor,s I realised we were a real mixed bag, made up of people from different races and religions, including some who were Jewish, protesting against the actions of their own government.

I also noticed the broad age spread of the protestors, which ranged from older activists, right the way to babies being pushed around in pushchairs. But perhaps the biggest surprise for me was that the majority of the people attending the demonstration were clearly not Muslims. I naively assumed that given the Muslim suffering in Palestine, this would galvanise Muslims to attending the demo. This particular observation filled me with hope and despair. Despair in the sense that given the levels of suffering in Palestine, more Muslims would’ve sacrificed a precious Saturday to attend the demo.

The hope comes from seeing so many non Muslims being supportive of the Palestinian cause. It taught me that you don’t need to be Muslim to appreciate suffering of the Palestinians, you just need to be human. Muslims and non Muslims alike are able to appreciate that the deaths of innocent men, women and children can never be justified and I came away from the day with hope that the movement in support of the Palestinian cause needs to embrace all religions and cultures because ultimately, it’s a tale of human suffering, which is something all decent people can identify with, regardless of race or religion.

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