Ian Payne 4am - 7am
The pro-Palestinian protesters should cancel this weekend's demo and let us reflect and remember in peace
6 November 2023, 14:07
Just how has it come to this?
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A nation that has always prided itself on its tolerance is now actively worried that Pro-Palestinian activists may target Remembrance Day commemorations.
One of the most sacred occasions when Britain pauses to reflect and remember those who have provided the ultimate sacrifice for their country is actually under threat.
It really is difficult to comprehend that our most solemn national event has been thrust into the spotlight in this way.
And I have a message for those people who believe that protesting this weekend is a good idea.
'Just because you can do it, doesn't mean that you should'.
Christian, Muslim, Jewish, we all live on this island and many of our forefathers have given their lives to protect the freedoms that we enjoy.
And, they include the freedom of speech and the right to protest.
These are inalienable rights enjoyed by us all but with rights come responsibilities and they cannot be used to the detriment of others.
Since Hamas launched its attack on October 7, we have seen soaring levels of anti-Semitism in this country.
Our capital has seen protests on the street, in Liverpool Street station and even a Tube train. Jewish restaurants have been attacked and parents felt unable to send their children to school.
Some no longer feel confident wearing religious symbols in public.
Whilst recognising the strong emotions that motivate many of the Pro-Palestinian marchers, let's hope they will stop and think of the consequences of their actions if they proceed to demonstrate in central London this weekend.
Which brings me to the Met.
Police have the unenviable task of upholding the sacred right to protest while making sure it is not abused. Yes, they have made mistakes.
How can they stand by and allow anyone to pull down a poster for a kidnapped child or miss chants for 'jihad' and 'intifada'
Commissioner Mark Rowley is in an unenviable position even if he has made mistakes - such as trying to say there are different definitions of jihad.
And now they are under massive political pressure to stop these demonstrations.
Rishi Sunak himself saying: "To plan protests on Armistice Day is provocative and disrespectful, and there is a clear and present risk that the Cenotaph and other war memorials could be desecrated, something that would be an affront to the British public and the values we stand for."
But even if the Met do ban these protests how likely is it that thousands of pro-Palestinian activists will come anyway?
And far-right groups have vowed to protest the Cenotaph. Returning to X, formerly Twitter, Tommy Robinson said 'Saturday 11/11 your country needs you'. This racked up 450 retweets in just 30 minutes.
The potential for trouble is clear for all to see.
And what of the veterans who want to pay their respects to fallen comrades? Surely they deserve better. Surely they have earned their moment of quiet reflection without the soundtrack of a noisy, contentious political demonstration.
To put it bluntly, how many chances will veterans of World War Two have left?
To protest on Armistice Day is different to all those that have gone before. This is a non-political day that is important to this nation.
One can only hope the organisers of the November 11 protest recognise this and stand aside.
Leave the heart of the capital to those wanting to solemnly mourn and remember.
It really isn't that much to ask.