Al Quds 2013

This year’s Al Quds Day March march in London was a surprisingly quiet affair. There did seem to be rather fewer taking part than in some previous years, and the chanting of pro-Palestinian slogans, while still enthusiastic did seem a little more subdued than before, but this wasn’t the real difference that I felt, the whole atmosphere seemed less fraught.

In some previous years the march has aroused considerable opposition on-line among various groups across the political spectrum, from the Iranian left  and democrats through Iranian royalists and Zionists to extreme right fringe groups all lining up to state their opposition on the web, as well as on the street. This year it seems to have taken place virtually without anyone noticing.

Perhaps the message that the Palestinians are really suffering and need our support is finally getting across, even to the most dedicated of their opponents, though I rather doubt it, though I think public opinion has shifted a little in their direction, despite the recently revealed evidence of efforts by those in charge of  BBC Middle East news to bias coverage against them.

The event has also suffered in the past from some over-zealous stewarding, with photographers at times being denies access to the march, or told they must not photograph the women. I’m pleased to say that I saw no sign of anything like this this year. The even ran smoothly and I had no problems covering it.

The London march is news in Baghdad but not for the BBC

The event started close to the BBC, because of the bias they show against the Palestinian cause, and the failure to report properly on the Israeli occupation of the West Bank and Gaza and the ongoing siege there.  The BBC doesn’t generally consider protests to be newsworthy, and despite it taking place on their doorstep didn’t have anyone present to report, though there were a number of foreign news channels present.

BBC Broadcasting house seen between the placards as the march goes down Regent St

The march was led by clerics, including a rabbi from the anti-Zionist Neturei Karta Jews, who walk down from Stoke Newington to take part in pro-Palestinian protests. although in the picture above all you can see is his black at at extreme left.

You can see Broadcasting House rather better in some of the other pictures, such as this showing a crowd of women with placards in the middle of the march, but I’d perhaps missed the chance of some better views with it by standing on the steps of  All Souls Church – at the right of this picture – to photograph the march from an elevated viewpoint.  Hard to be in two places at once, but perhaps I made the wrong choice.

I photographed the Neturei Karta when I arrived where the march was assembling, but their faces are so interesting it’s just too easy to forget to include the placards which carry their message. In the image above their opposition to the Zionist state is shown graphically. I also wanted to include the Palestinian flag he and another of his colleagues is holding. The left edge of the frame was fixed by the pointing finger, but the image might benefit from cropping off the area to the right of his hat (particularly that yellow patch, but perhaps all of the lighter wall) and a little from the bottom – those hands are surely a distraction.

or perhaps even more radically, departing from the 3:2 aspect ratio:

Or maybe I should just have thought more carefully about framing when I took the picture! Though seeing the three versions together I think I prefer it as taken. You can try too hard to make things neat, and I often do. A little chaos sometimes helps.

Finally, here are some of those placards.

More at Al Quds Day March.


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