Over 15,000 attend to begin new era for the Free Palestine Movement

July 14, 2017 /

Palestine Expo marks the beginning of a new era for the Free Palestine movement.

Last weekend, Friends of Al Aqsa welcomed over 15,000 guests to the Queen Elizabeth II conference centre in the heart of Westminster, London, for Palestine Expo. The biggest celebration of Palestinian life, culture and cuisine to ever take place in Europe.

The feedback from speakers and guests alike has been phenomenally positive, making the months of stress and anxiety fully worthwhile.

“Palestine Expo was all about celebrating Palestine and ensuring Palestinians know they have not been forgotten. The event has been on the lips of hundreds of thousands of Palestinians living under occupation, who were deeply moved that so many of us would seek to remember them and mark their struggle in this way”, said Ismail Patel, chair of FOA.

From arts to culture, music to food, Palestine Expo had it all covered.

Across five floors, Palestine Expo had something for everyone. The exhibitions, which took months of planning, were a tremendous success inspiring young and old alike to visually imagine Palestine.

The stalls were an array of produce from Palestine, clothing, fragrances and all manner of other interesting items.

One of the most popular and thought provoking aspect of Palestine Expo were the speakers, over 60 of them, from an array of backgrounds who delivered talks and lectures to packed out audiences. Jewish, Christian, Muslim, Atheist – Palestine Expo hosted them all, as speakers and as guests. This was an opportunity to hear a diverse range of voices and views, reflecting decades of exposure to and experience of the occupation.

Anti-Palestine activity

In the run up to Palestine Expo and since, FOA has faced a vicious anti-Palestine hate campaign from a marginal section of the pro-Israel lobby. Tremendous efforts were made to tarnish the reputation of FOA, with particular focus on Muslim speakers at Palestine Expo, underlying blatant Islamophobic attitudes.

“This demonstrated how easy it is to accuse Muslim speakers of extremism without evidence, and how quickly such lies are spread without fear of retribution” stated Ismail Patel.

Ultimately, Palestine Expo was not derailed as these extremists would have liked, and the event was a tremendous success.

FOA believes this marks a significant turning point for the Free Palestine movement, and encourages everyone who attended the event to spread the word and not allow the voice of the Palestinian people to be silenced any longer.

Finally, a big thank you goes out to the fantastic volunteers at FOA, without who Palestine Expo would not be possible. Over the months they gave all their spare time to plan and prepare to deliver the biggest Palestine event in Europe. On the day, FOA volunteers were doing what they do best, positvely engaging with the public to ensure everyone felt welcome and had a fun filled, educational family day out at Palestine Expo.