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Muslims march against violence in Middle East
Hundreds of Muslims gathered at Queen’s Park Savannah yesterday afternoon for a peaceful march to raise awareness of recent human rights atrocities in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict in the Gaza Strip.
Dressed in white T-shirts bearing the Palestinian flag and peace slogans, the participants, slowly made one lap along the jogging track at the savannah.
Some visitors to the Emancipation Village at the Grand Stand, who seemed to be intrigued by the large turnout, looked on as the large stream of marchers passed by chanting phrases in Arabic which were punctuated by shouts of “Free Palestine.”
The participants, mainly youths and large extended families from Muslim organisations across Trinidad, gathered shortly after midday for Jumu’ah (weekly congregational prayer) on the outskirts of the savannah. After the lap, participants returned to the same location to listen to several specially invited speakers.
In a brief interview with the T&T Guardian, Abdel Hosein, a representative of United Voices of Humanity, one of the main organisers of the march, said his organisation was happy with the response to event.
Hosein said the march was the first of several events planned by his organisation, which was recently formed in response to media reports over the large number of civilian casualties including scores of children, since the military conflict between the two Middle Eastern states reignited several months ago.
He also said his organisation and several other activism groups within the Muslim community had come together to raise funds for humanitarian aid for Palestinians affected and displaced by the conflict.
One of the participants, television broadcaster Fazeer Mohammed said he felt compelled to take part as he believed more awareness on the issue was necessary.
He said: “For too long people like myself have tend to sit on the sidelines...It is a wake-up call to all of T&T that we live in a country, by the grace of the almighty, where we are all allowed to practice our own religion and to pursue legally and lawfully the best opportunities we want for ourselves and children.”
While he expressed optimism over the possibility of a resolution of the conflict, Mohammed admitted that the complex issue which needed the support and intervention of major international countries.
“We cant expect transformation overnight, there have been major demonstrations in the major capitals of the world and we still see what is going on,” Mohammed said.
Another marcher, Abdul Khan said he believed that while there have been calls for peace in the region there is also the need for justice for innocent victims.
Khan, who said he had been following the conflict for his entire life, blamed the lack of justice as the cause of the breakdown of several ceasefires, which were agreed to in the past.
“It is absurd to expect peace when the Palestine people are deprived of an identity, a citizenship, and their legitimate right on the world map as a sovereign nation,” Khan said.