About three hundred people marched through central London on Sunday 7 October as part of the “Al Quds Day” march organised by the Islamic Human Rights Commission.
In fact, the IHRC has nothing to do with human rights and everything to do with rabidly right-wing political Islam. As the Awaaz/South Asia Watch group, which campaigns against all varieties of religious fundamentalist politics originating in South Asia, puts it, the IHRC is one of a number of UK Islamist organisations which “adhere to the ideology of the ‘absolute rulership of the clerics’ and ‘Islamic government’ advocated by Khomeini and developed by other representatives of political Shi’ism.”
Similarly, Al Quds Day has very little to do with “solidarity with the Palestinians”, as its organisers claim, and a great deal to do with support for Hamas, Hezbollah and the Iranian state. It was invented by Ayatollah Khomeini as a way of mobilising the people of Iran in an orgy of rabid chauvinism against Israel (al Quds is the Arabic, and by extension the Farsi, for Jerusalem) and, of course, support for their “own” government.
The 7 October demonstration in London was openly and proudly in support of the Iranian regime and its clients. Disgraceful, then, that it received official support from Respect, with George Galloway speaking at the closing rally. (Though, interestingly, there very few if any SWPers there: is asking your members to participate in that would be an embarrassment too far?)
Workers’ Liberty members took part in a small counter-demonstration which was initiated by David T from the website Harry’s Place, but also included contingents from Outrage!, the Worker-Communist Party of Iran and Class War. (Unfortunately, it also included two Iranian nationalists waving the shah-era flag.) As the Al Quds demo went past, the counter-demo chanted: “Support the Iranian people’s fight / for workers’, students’, women’s rights”; and “We support the Palestinians / not Ahmedinejad’s opinions”.
In addition to participating in the counter-demo, some of us joined Peter Tatchell on the main demo, to try to intervene and talk to people. As you can imagine, we didn’t get a very positive response: we were accused of being “Zionist agents”, “spawn of Satan” (yes!) and so on. One female comrade had a group of women spit at her, demanding to know what she knew about women’s rights in Iran. Moreover, a crowd of young men started shouting “Paedophile” and “Child-killer” as soon as they recognised Tatchell.
However, a small group of hijab-wearing women did approach him and say they were glad that we were there: hope for the future, I suppose...