ON the Al Quds march, I held two placards. One with a Palestinian flag and “Free Palestine”, and the other with a photograph of a 16-year-old girl, Atefeh Rajabi Sahaaleh, who was executed in 2004 by the Iranian regime for “crimes against chastity”, having been sexually abused since childhood.
As soon as I turned up, I was subjected to a barrage of violent, threatening abuse from large sections of the crowd. Some chanted: “Tatchell is a Zionist, Tatchell is a paedophile. Get out! Get out! Get out!” On six occasions, some of the protesters tried to physically attack me and the Workers’ Liberty activists. It was only police intervention that stopped them from battering us.
Many of the marchers were carrying Hezbollah flags and chanting: “We are all Hezbollah!” When we pointed out that Hezbollah kills innocent Israeli civilians, and endorses the execution of women and gay people who transgress their interpretation of Islam, we were told things like: “That's good. Society has to have order. These punishments are necessary for the good of society.”
On a positive note, several of the marchers, nearly all women and nearly all wearing the hijab, expressed their support for our protest. One said: “We don't agree with the Iranian regime either. Killing that young girl was wrong.” Another said: “Islam is about love and peace. Don't listen to the fanatics. We are only here because we support Palestine.” Such responses were very gratifying.
• For a full report from Peter Tatchell, see www.workersliberty.org/node/9317