Ok, I cut short my beauty sleep this morning to go stand in the cold drizzle all day and listen to people speek out against the war in Afghanistan. I figured that I missed the civil rights movement, and the anti Vietnam war protests, so I should get my protest march experiance while I can.
It was interesting, the crowd gathered at Hyde park by the marble arch at noon, and listend to a bunch of speekers for a while. The interesting thing about these speekers was that half of them where from one or another branch of the Socialist/Marxist party, and they spend as much time bitching about the British government in general as they did bitching about the war. There where some interesting speekers in the park though, a profesor from Cambridge, leader of the Association of Muslim Businesses in the United Kingdoms, who spooke about the racist backlash. The only problem was that he focused more on the Palistine question than the war in Afghanistan. Speeking of the Palistine question there was A LOT of talk and shouting about that today. About a third of the signs people where holding up were anti-Isrial or at least pro-Palistine signs. There was also a lot of talk about the US not signing the World Court treaty, and a lot of intersting reasons for this where given, my favorite is the one about not signing it because Henry Kissenger would be the first one tried for his crimes against humanity in the Vietnam war. Another good one is the one about Arial Sharon being one of the first to be charged should the Court be approved (it has been ratified by some 40 countries but needs better than 60 to go into effect.)
After leaving Hyde Park, the protesters marched down Park Lane to Trafalger square where the line up of speekers got much better; two members of Parlement, an exmember of the Labor party, Yvonne Ridley the jurnalist who was taken prisoner by the Taliban, and the leaders of some Muslim organizations (sorry I can’t say the names, much less write them down form memory)
A lot more speeches followed, many of them very infalmatory, with little fact just a lot of “I’ll tell you why…” Some of my favorite where the ones to do with the reasons for the war, like “America wants cheep oil,” or “the economy is bad, start a war.” There where a lot off good points made about American and British society, and the problems the governments have caused in the world. But after a while the speeches broke down into America bashing with everyone saying the same thing, (of which “America needs to fix the problem in Palistine…” was interesting, and “Why are the rights of wemon in Kabul so important when the wemon of Saudi Arabi are just as repressed? I’ll tell you why, Oil!”)
The crowd was quite intersting, a lot of Muslims of all ages, quite a few ex-hippies, many college students (read new-hippies) and more middle aged people than I expected. The march from Hyde Park to Trafalger Square was filled with interesting slogans being chanted; “Hey Bush, we know you! Daddy was a killer too!” along with a lot of recycled hippy slogans.
Call me strange, or just a sucker for different cultures, but I thought the coolest thing all day was when the guy got up to sing the Prayer to Allah, or call to the faithful at sunset to signal the end of the fast and the time to pray, for all the Muslims who where fasting on account of it being Ramadan. The other really cool thing was one of the speekers talked about the talk in the newspapers about how Islam was an alien culture and religion to most people in the UK, but he said if any of them did their homework, they would know that the name Trafalger comes from an Arabic name, Tarf el garb which means “cape of the West.”
Anyway, it was an interesting day, and I took some pictures, they did not burn anything which disapointed me but oh well. I can tell my kids years from now that I was one of the 100,000 people in Trafalgar square protesting the bombing of Afghanistan.