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Rally for Palestine, Tower Hamlets, London, 2021. Photo: Carole Vincent

Rally for Palestine, Tower Hamlets, London, 2021. Photo: Carole Vincent

The Big Ride for Palestine 2021 arrives in London. Orlando Hill reports from the road, Carole Vincent from the London rally

The rain today did not dampen the mood of the riders. Some headed back to Bristol and some joined keeping the number at around 200. We left Swindon with chants of “free, free Palestine!”

While I cycled, and at the stops, I had time to talk to the other riders. It was mainly about the struggle in Palestine. I learned from a young rider from Taiwan how the watermelon became a symbol of Palestinian resistance. Palestinians were prohibited of flying the flag or even exhibiting the national colours. So, protesters started carrying watermelons for they bear the colours red, black, green and white. The artist Khaled Hourami painted a series of slices of watermelon. This young rider had attached to her handlebars a Palestine flag and a postcard of Hourami’s painting. 

At every village we stopped and were warmly received. Outside Shellingford, neighbours had set up a stall with flags and posters saying “support the children of Gaza”. As we approached Oxford a man came out with a flag of Palestine chanting “free, free Palestine” and “from the river to the sea Palestine will be free”. Students cheered from outside the local community centre. A family in Oxford made poster describing the riders as heroes with bike shorts instead of capes. 

Oxford is twinned with Ramallah and the Lord Mayor of Oxford, Mark Lygo, spoke at the welcome rally citing the work the city has done to raise awareness and help Palestine. A South African compared her experience with Apartheid and how Israel treats Palestinians. The Israeli state has to be called what is - an Apartheid state. Ian Hudson from the Bakers’ Union said he was speaking at the rally because “we should always stand up for humanity and oppose Apartheid.  

After the rally, we all cycled down High Street chanting and soaking in the support of the locals. The day ended with a meal of biryani offered at the East Oxford Community Centre. 

Photos from the ride

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On Sunday, 1st August, 2021 in a park in Tower Hamlets, following a gruelling ride in all weathers, 250 cyclists arrived from Bristol to an amazing crowd chanting 'Free, Free, Palestine' & tumultuous applause. 

The Big Ride for Palestine was a truly diverse event raising awareness of the plight of Palestinians under the apartheid state of Israel.

This year the Big Ride for Palestine has raised thousands of pounds in support of M.ECA (Middle Eastern Children's Alliance) & will help to equip a Centre for Children in Ramallah on the Central West Bank. 

There was a vibrant crowd of hundreds listening to speeches from local Community organisations, including Palestinian Solidarity Campaign, the vicar of St John's Bethnal Green who hosted the event last year, contributions from Jewish Voice for Labour & many more. 

Messages of support were sent by local MPs, Apsana Begum and Rushanara Ali.

There were calls for the British government to boycott Israeli goods along with divestment & sanctions.

This annual event proves once again that the issue of Palestine brings communities together to do good, unlike the current & past leaders of the state of Israel who tear communities apart.

Viva Palestine, solidarity!

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London photos by Carole Vincent. All other photos by Orlando Hill.

Part 1 is here

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