Organizers and attendees called the protest that began in London on Saturday afternoon to demand an end to Israel’s brutality against the Palestinian people the largest public gathering in Britain in recent memory. Several lakhs of people participated in this peaceful program by overcoming various doubts, uncertainties and worries. The largest protest on November 11 was organized by several organizations including Palestine Solidarity Campaign, Friends of Al-Aqsa, Muslim Association of Britain, Stop the War Coalition, Palestinian Forum in Britain, and the last few Saturdays.
Armistice Day is celebrated in Britain on November 11 every year to commemorate the martyrs of all wars, including the First and Second World Wars. On this day, the ruling government of Britain tried to cancel the massive protest on behalf of the people of Palestine, but in the end, the top level of the British police government took a stand not on this principle but on the professional moral independence of the police.
As Commissioner of London’s Metropolitan Police, Sir Mark Rowley declared, the police wanted to act independently, not under pressure but with respect for the law and reality.m
Many trains and tubes in London were closed since Saturday morning. Still, the train station and the road were crowded with people since morning. People from various cities outside of London by buses, cars and taxis start gathering towards Central London from 10:30 in the morning. Protesters chanted slogans demanding the resignation of Britain’s Home Secretary Suella Braverman. They said that some of the comments of Home Minister Suella Braverman were responsible for heating up the situation.
For the last two days, the leaders of the Muslim community have repeatedly requested everyone to keep today’s meeting and rally peaceful and to be vigilant so that no disorderly situation occurs.
On the other hand, when a group of extreme right-wingers went to counter-protest against the Palestinian people, they were stopped by the police. At this time, counter-protesters clashed with the police. Tommy Robinson, the founder of the EDL, a party accused of racist behavior in Britain, was seen leading his supporters. Police responded by stopping and searching the protesters and asking many to remove their face masks. As of writing this report at 3:30 p.m., the police arrested more than ninety counter-protesters.
Why Suella Braverman failed to stop the pro-Palestinian protest:
Since the start of the conflict in Gaza, various pro-Palestinian organizations have been protesting in coordination every Saturday. Every week the schedules were more crowded than the previous week. The protestors negotiated with the police the route and duration of each of the programs and agreed to the conditions.
From the outset, the police attempted to balance freedom of speech and assembly with non-harassment. The Public Order Act 1986 gives the police the power to impose conditions on any march where they reasonably believe there is a risk of serious public disorder. Besides, if the organizers of the program go to the court if the police prevent it, there is a fear of increasing the complexity in the field.