London: Christians For Palestine in national peace rally

29 April 2024

On Saturday morning, Christians of all denominations gathered at St Matthew’s Church Westminster, for prayers, before heading out to join the national peace rally, calling for an immediate and permanent ceasefire in Gaza.
One organiser said: “This genocide shows no sign of stopping, and, along with the military slaughter we are seeing intentional starvation – the grossest of human rights abuses and a violation of humanitarian law. Now is not the time to stop making our voices heard.”
Armed with posters and banners the group marched into Trafalgar Square, joining thousands of Jewish, Muslim and secular peace groups and individuals heading for Hyde Park.
As they reached the park gates they stopped for a brief prayer before joining the rally to hear the speakers. These included a Holocaust survivor, politicians, artists and human rights campaigners.
Stephen Kapos, an 87-year-old originally from Budapest, who lost most of his family in the Holocaust, said: “We want to stress our solidarity with the Palestinian people” adding that memories of the Holocaust should never be used as cover for Israel’s actions in Gaza. “The right wing has been claiming that there are no-go areas of London for Jews. We want to prove that’s wrong – we are very welcome here.”
Irish MEP Clare Daly gave a powerful speech demanding an arms embargo against Israel. She further called out Joe Biden, European Commission president Ursula von der Leyen and Rishi Sunak for supporting and enabling Israel, as the genocide in Gaza continues.
Northern Ireland’s first minister, Michelle O’Neill told the crowds: “Ireland stands for and with Palestine. From this platform we demand an immediate and unconditional ceasefire We need to see an end to the genocide, an end to the ethnic cleansing and collective punishment of the people of Gaza. What is happening in Gaza in the gravest human rights violation of our time.
“Six months of occupation has seen Israel indiscriminately slaughter 35,000 Gazans including 15,000 children. We in Ireland have deep empathy with the Palestinian people, born of that shared experience of colonialism and occupation. Sinn Fein has demanded that the Irish government do more to hold Israel to account. Friends, Ireland knows conflict. But we equally know the value of hard won peace. No conflict is intractable. Peace is always possible and peace most now be the shared will of the international community now. World leaders, especially the United States face a choice. Stand by International law, human rights and justice or stand by the savagery of Israel…. So today with one voice we say to Israel: stop the slaughter.
CND Vice-President Jeremy Corbyn, and CND Chair Tom Unterrainer also addressed the crowds.
Actress Juliet Stevenson gave a moving reading of ‘If I die’ the last poem by Palestinian writer Refaat Alareer before he was killed by Israel in Gaza in December.
In his address, Gary Younge, Sociology Professor at University of Manchester and former Guardian journalist spoke powerfully of the historical parallels in the present moment of the Gaza genocide, and why we must keep going – because we will accept nothing less than freedom for Palestine. “You can cut down the flowers but you can’t stop the spring,” he siad.
Rose Haddow from Our Lady Help of Christians church in Kentish Town, north London told ICN: “It was important for me to show solidarity with everyone calling again for an immediate ceasefire in Palestine as we all marched through central London on Saturday. As a Catholic, I felt reassured and proud to be walking with fellow Christians behind a banner proclaiming ‘Blessed are the peacemakers’ for it is only by embracing a truly peaceful and pragmatic stance that a just solution to this horrific situation in Gaza and beyond can be achieved. As a whole, the people on the march were noisy, vibrant, good natured, kind, friendly and full of desire and determination to make a difference and to call upon governments to reject conflict and the weapons of war and work sincerely to make peace a reality. It is without question, time to bring about a ceasefire and alleviate the terrible death, destruction and suffering of the Palestinian people.”
Christians For Palestine UK is a grassroots movement of Christians from all denominations marching and praying together for peace and justice in Palestine.

Christians for Palestine at Westminster Abbey. Image ICN/JS