demo against iran 224.88.
(photo credit: Jonny Paul)
Around 100 people with a wide array of backgrounds and political beliefs stood together in London's Piccadilly Circus on Sunday to protest Al-Quds Day and what Iran dissidents called the regime's "continued exploitation of the plight of the Palestinians to cover up the crimes of the Islamic regime."
Al-Quds Day, started by the Ayatollah Khomeini following the Islamic Revolution in 1979, is an annual anti-Israel event held on the last Friday of Ramadan to oppose Israel's control of Jerusalem.
On Friday, Iranians attended nationwide rallies in which hard-line President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said Israel's continued existence was an "insult to human dignity."
The counterprotest was organized by the popular British blog "Harry's Placeâ€š" under the banner "Oppose the Government of Iran, support the people of Iran." It included a variety of individuals, Jewish and non-Jewish, from all along the political spectrum: Iranian dissident groups and individuals stood with human rights campaigners, socialist groups like the Alliance for Workers' Liberty and anarchist group Class War.
"We wanted to see if we could pull together people from across the political spectrum, from communists to liberals, who support democracy and human rights in Iran and oppose the current murderous regime," Dave T., the proprietor of "Harry's Place" and organizer of the counter-demo, told The Jerusalem Post.
The anti-Al-Quds Day protest focused on what one Iranian called "a dirty trick" by the Iranian regime, who he said are "complacent in human rights abuses and oppression."
Hamid Zarifnia, a political science student at Teheran University during the 1999 student uprising, was arrested and incarcerated for taking part in the student protests that started in Teheran and spread to 19 Iranian cities, lasting for six days before being quashed. Over 2,000 students were arrested.
Speaking to the Post, Zarifnia said: "This [Al-Quds Day] is purely a propaganda action by the Islamic government, which wants to focus support for the groups and people who are against peace in the region. For example, they were opposing the recent talks between Abbas and Olmert."
Arash Nazari, a civil engineering student during the student uprising, told the Post: "What has the Islamic government done for the Iranian people? For 28 years they've brought nothing more than corruption, poverty, drug addiction," he said. "Iran has regressed during the rule of the Islamic regime. They haven't brought prosperity for the Iranian people, so they're not going to bring it for the Palestinian people or any other people. If they can do something, the priority should be the Iranian people."
Organized by the London-based Islamic Human Rights Commission and supported by a number of Islamic groups such as Hizb-ut-Tahrir and Friends of Al-Aksa, around 300 people joined the Al-Quds march, which began in Marble Arch in central London and headed down Piccadilly, ending in Trafalgar Square.
Under the large number of Hizbullah flags and pictures of Ayatollah Khomeini were banners saying "Zionism is racism" and "We are all Hizbullah," calling for Israel to "End child killing," "End state terrorism" and "End Israeli apartheid."
Leading the march with a number of imams was Manchester Natorei Karta representative Aharon Cohen, who attended the controversial Iranian Holocaust-denial conference in Teheran last December.