Posts Tagged ‘Shia’

Central Hill, Brian Haw & Al Quds

Saturday, June 18th, 2022

Central Hill, Brian Haw & Al Quds. 18th June 2017 was a Sunday, and though I now prefer to observe Sunday as a day of rest, five years ago it was for me another working day. Since the lockdown I get tired much more quickly and I’m cutting down a bit on work. Today I’ll probably go for a walk with my wife after lunch, stopping off on the way home to sit and eat an ice cream before picking more strawberries from the garden and relaxing a little before dinner.

But back in 2017 I was making good use of a Travelcard, going first to the Central Hill Estate which looks down over London close to Crystal Palace then travelling to Westminster to remember Brian Haw before taking the tube up to Oxford Circus and walking to the BBC to join marchers gathering for the annual Al Quds march.


Ted Knight speaks for Central Hill – Central Hill Estate

Central Hill, Brian Haw & Al Quds
A woman comes to talk to me about living on the estate since it was built

I deliberately arrived very early at Central Hill so I could take a walk around and make more pictures of one of London’s finest council estates, but almost missed the start of the talk I had come to hear opposing Lambeth Council’s plans for its demolition as I spent some time talking with a woman who had seen me taking pictures who was still living in the home she had moved into when the estate was built and had raised her family here. She told me how good it had been living here in a fine home that was still in good condition and had never needed any major repairs.

Central Hill, Brian Haw & Al Quds

Ted Knight, former leader of Lambeth Council, had come to speak in support of the campaign to save the Estate, passed for demolition by the council despite the almost unanimous vote of residents for plans to refurbish rather than demolish and the plans by Architects for Social Housing which would achieve the increase in density desired without demolition.

Central Hill, Brian Haw & Al Quds

Knight as council leader earned the name ‘Red Ted’ from the gutter press for standing up to the Tory Government’s rate-capping 1984 Rent Act which severely limited the spending of local councils – which eventually led to him and 31 other councillors being surcharged and banned from political office for five years in 1986. He remained an active trade unionist and in the Labour Party and when he spoke was Branch Chair of the Gypsy Hill ward which includes Central Hill. Although his politics and mine were not entirely the same, I was sad to hear of his death in 2020.

As Knight said, under borough architect Ted Hollamby the estate was planned by Rosemary Stjernstedt as a living community and had remained remarkably successful, with a number of original residents from the 1970s still living there and wanting to continue to do so. At that time Labour believed that nothing was too good for the working people and the estate was built to high specifications and is still in sound condition. A deliberate process of managed neglect – like that which had resulted in the Grenfell Tower disaster had – had been carried out by Lambeth Council to legitimise its demolition.

Lambeth council now refuse to allow the community to use the resource centre

Although the meeting was poorly attended, surveys of estate residents have shown a very high proportion of residents want to remain on the estate and oppose the demolition. The council quotes very different figures and its response to feedback from estate residents has been to remove the estate representatives from the consultative body.

Faults in the paving are marked but left without repair

Lambeth Council has also ridiculously inflated the estimate for the refurbishment of the estate and rejected without proper consideration a carefully planned alternative scheme for a much cheaper limited infill of the site rather than demolition which would involve far, far less disruption to the families who live here and also result in the retention of much-needed social housing. The only real problem with the alternative scheme proposed by Architects for Social Housing is that it would not generate excessive profits for the developers.

Ted Knight speaks for Central Hill


Brian Haw remembered – Parliament Square

This was the sixth anniversary of the death of peace campaigner Brian Haw who had made a ten-year political stand against war in Parliament Square despite considerable harassment by police urged on by politicians, laws introduced against his and other protests, Westminster Council officials and almost certainly MI5 agents.

Brian Haw began his camp here on 2 June 2001, and remained in place despite many attempts, legal and otherwise to remove him for almost 10 years, leaving only when arrested, for court appearances and to speak at protests at Trafalgar Square and Downing St until 1 January 2011 when he left England to receive treatment for his lung cancer in Berlin. He died in Germany in the early hours of 18 June 2011.His ten years of protest and the frequent and repeated harassment undoubtedly hastened his decline and death.

His protest in Parliament square was continued by Barbara Tucker who had joined him in 2005 and had been imprisoned twice for her role in the protest and arrested 48 times. The level of harassment increased and she went on hunger strike on 31st December 2012. Late in January 2013 she was taken into hospital close to death, and was treated for frostbite and exposure. Her protests continued on-line.

Brian Haw remembered


Al Quds march – BBC to US Embassy

Several thousands came from around the country for the annual Al Quds (Jerusalem) Day march in London. Organised by a Quds committee with the Islamic Human Rights Commission it was supported by various groups including the Stop the War Coalition, Muslim Association of Britain and Jews for Boycotting Israeli Goods. At the front of the march were a group of Imams and Neturei Karta anti-Zionist Jews.

The march called for ‘Freedom for Palestine’ and for all oppressed peoples across the world. It supports of the BDS campaign for a boycott of Israel Israeli goods, divestment from companies supporting Israel and sanctions against the Israeli state. It demands that Israel ends its breaches of international law and its oppression of the Palestinian people in what is an apartheid system, and ends its siege and attacks on Gaza.

Zionists oppose the march with a protest close to the final rally at the US Embassy, but a small militant group carrying Israeli flags attempted to stop the march on its route, calling those taking part supporters of the banned terrorist group Hezbollah.

A number of the marchers were holding Hezbollah flags, which carried a message indicating they were supporting Hezbollah as a political organisation – it is one of two main parties representing Shia Muslims, Lebanon’s largest religious group – as a part of national unity governments in the Lebanese parliament.

Police seemed very reluctant to move the Zionists off the road in front of the march which was held up for some time, with marchers simply waiting for the police to clear them. After some time the the marchers held their planned minute of silence for the Grenfell Tower victims before getting up and telling police that unless the police cleared the road they would simply push them aside and march through.

The Al Quds day march is very much a family event but with the numbers involved the march stewards would clearly have been able to do so and the statement did galvanise the police into action, and the march was able to move on slowly.

The event organisers make it very clear that this is not an anti-Semitic event, and I think one or two placards which might have suggested this were rapidly removed by stewards. In 2019 Home Secretary Sajid Javid decided to proscribe Hezbollah’s political wing as well as the military wing which had been proscribed in 2008, so showing any support for Hezbollah would be an offence carrying a sentence of up to 10 years in prison.

Al Quds march
Zionists protest Al Quds Day March


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30 Sept 2007 – Two Religious Events

Thursday, September 30th, 2021

Martydom of Ali

On Sunday 30th September 2007 I photographed two events in London connected with religion, the first Muslim and the second organised by Christian Aid.

Shia Muslims hold a large parade every year mourn the martydom of Ali, a cousin who grew up the the house of the prophet Muhammad and was one of the first to profess his belief when the prophet disclosed his divine revelation when Ali was around ten years old. Later he married Muhammad’s daughter Fatimah and was a great warrior and leader and one of the foremost Islamic scholars.

Ali was elected as the fourth Caliph at a time when civil wars were taking place between Muslims following the death of his predecessor, and he fought in a number of battles, eventually being assassinated in 661 CE by a member of a group who regarded him as a heretic while praying in the mosque at Kufa, now in Iraq. Many of the details of events around this time are disputed.

Ali is one of the central figures of Shia Islam and they regard him as having been the rightful successor to Muhammad while Sunni Muslims supported the father-in-law of Muhammad, Abu Bakr who became the first Caliph. The split led to various battles but only became a schism almost 20 years after Ali’s death, when Ali’s son Husayn and family were killed at the Battle of Karbala in 680 CE.

The ceremonies which involve a procession with an elaborate flower-decorated coffin, and tall banners about Ali, began at Marble Arch with a long period of mourning. There was much beating of breasts and then a procession moving very slowly down Park Lane with much continued mourning and beating of breasts. The men march in one group and then the women behind them, the two groups separated by the bier. Many of the men are stripped to the waist and their bodies become reddened by their powerful beating.

It’s an impressive event which I photographed on several occasions. The stewards at the event have sometimes told me “We do not photograph the ladies” but I’ve also had emails from some of the women thanking me for recording their participation in the ceremony.

Cut the Carbon

An event of a very different nature was taking place at St Mary’s Battersea, a church with fine views across the River Thames that Turner sat at window above the entrance to record – and a window inside remembers him, with another for William Blake, along with some splendid monuments, one with a relief illustrating Edward Wynter’s feats of crushing a tiger to death and overcoming 60 mounted moors.

I was there with others to photograph the arrival of Christian Aid’s ‘cut the carbon’ march, arriving in London at the end of a thousand mile journey from Bangor in Northern Ireland via Belfast, Edinburgh, Newcastle On Tyne, Leeds, Birmingham and Cardiff to London – including a detour to meet Prime Minister Gordon Brown at the Labour Party conference in Bournemouth. The following day they were going on to City Hall and then to finish at St Paul’s Cathedral.

This was a march 14 years ago with an international perspective on climate change, with walkers from Brazil, El Salvador, Kenya, India, Bangladesh, South Africa, Congo and elsewhere. When I photographed it the following day in front of Tower Bridge it was led by marchers from Brazil representing an organisation of landless farm workers – and I was very pleased a few months later to include picture of them in my show on environment protests as a part of Foto Arte 2007 in Brasilia.

More at:
Mourning the Martydom of Ali
Cut the Carbon march

and on October 1st 2007
Christian aid Cut the Carbon march – final mile


All photographs on this and my other sites, unless otherwise stated, are taken by and copyright of Peter Marshall, and are available for reproduction or can be bought as prints.


Arbaeen – 7 Feb 2010

Sunday, February 7th, 2021

One side of my work on London that has perhaps been overlooked, certainly in my posts on this site, is the coverage of religious festivals. Of course not all are public events and most of my work has been on the streets, but there are many processions and similar events that I’ve been able to photograph, mainly by Christians, Sikhs, Hindus and Muslims.

Some of these have been taking place in London for many years – such as the annual procession from the Italian Church in Clerkenwell which dates back to the Victoria era, while others have only come here as London has become more multicultural with the arrival here of many from our former colonies. But we have also seen a revival of some older traditions in more recent years, for example with more Christian processions of faith on Good Fridays, as well as the importation of Christian events from other countries and such as the annual blessing of the River Thames.

One of the larger and more colourful of these annual festivals is the Arbaeen procession of mourning by Shia Muslims organised in London by the Hussaini Islamic Trust UK since 1982, the largest and oldest such event in Europe.

It commemorates the sacrifice made by the grandson of Mohammed, Imam Husain, killed with his family and companions at Kerbala in 680AD and takes place on the Sunday following the end of 40 days of mourning the martyrdom of Husain.

I’ve photographed this event on several occasions, and in 2010 I wrote:

Imam Husain is seen by Shia Muslims as making a great stand against the oppression of a tyrant and representing the forces of good against evil. Husain and his small group of supporters were hugely outnumbered but chose to fight to the death for their beleifs rather than to compromise. Their stand is a symbol of freedom and dignity, and an aspiration to people and nations to strive for freedom, justice and equality.

London Arbaeen Procession

You can see and read more about the procession, with its impressive silver and gold replicas of the shrines of Karbala, Zuljana, the horse of Imam Husain, its flags and banners, the re-enactment of the events by children, the prayers and recitations,

and the beating of breasts on My London Diary: London Arbaeen Procession.

You can also find pictures of the Arbaeen processions in March 2007, March 2008, February 2009, Jan 2011 and Jan 2012 on My London Diary.


All photographs on this and my other sites, unless otherwise stated, are taken by and copyright of Peter Marshall, and are available for reproduction or can be bought as prints.