OPINION

In Pictures / Silence is Violence: Londoners call for ceasefire in Palestine

A protester holds a sign showing a watermelon, which became a symbol of solidarity with Palestine following restrictions on displaying the Palestinian flag.
A protester at the ceasefire demonstration holds a sign showing a watermelon, which became a symbol of solidarity with Palestine following restrictions on displaying the Palestinian flag.

Aya Hussein

7 November 2023

On 28 October, following 22 days of war between Israel and Hamas, I joined tens of thousands of people in London to demand a ceasefire.

A protester near London Bridge carries a hand-painted sign.

A protester near London Bridge carries a hand-painted sign.

Being there, even if I felt helpless and powerless, was the only thing I could do.

As a mother, witnessing the lives of children being taken every day and seeing them searching for their parents under the rubble broke me. My heart aches for those who have lost everything and everyone, for those who are in pain without hospitals to heal them. I grieve for the journalists who lose their families while doing their jobs. For the medics who have to make decisions forced on them by war. I can’t comprehend governments’ refusals to call for a full ceasefire.

A speaker at a protest says: “… loss of thousands of lives, and we demand the implementation of the many United Nations resolutions that remain undeeded. These massive demonstrations must continue. We must stand on the streets of this country and we must scream, “Ceasefire now!””

Not in my name. I protested for an end to the apartheid and impending genocide, for an end to the senseless loss of innocent lives, and for peace.

Three protesters stand above the crowd with a scarf, a megaphone, and a red smoke flare.

A protester walks on a railing, carrying a sign that reads “Freedom for Palestine.”

A protester walks along a railing, carrying a sign that reads “Freedom for Palestine.”

A protester wrapped in a Palestinian flag speaks into a microphone.

A protester wrapped in a Palestinian flag speaks into a microphone.

Women’s voices took a leading position in the soundscape. Passing by the Women of World War II memorial on Downing Street with a group of women protesters, I thought of the resilience of women whose voices have been the driving force of transformation across generations.

A protester holding a hand-drawn sign with the Hebrew word ‘Shalom,’ which roughly translates as ‘peace,’ with the ‘M’ drawn to represent the Palestinian flag.

A protester holds a hand-drawn sign with the Hebrew word ‘Shalom,’ which roughly translates as ‘peace,’ with the ‘M’ drawn to represent the Palestinian flag.

A group of protesters with women in the foreground pass by the Women of World War II memorial, raising flags and wearing Palestinian keffiyeh scarves.

A group of protesters with women in the foreground pass by the Women of World War II memorial, raising flags and wearing Palestinian keffiyeh scarves.

Call-and-response chants at the protest: “Free, free” / “Palestine” and “What do we want?” / “Ceasefire” / “When do we want it?” / “Now”

Two people in blue nurses’ uniforms march with placards that read “Stop killing children” and “Stop bombing hospitals.”

Two people in blue nurses’ uniforms march with placards that read “Stop killing children” and “Stop bombing hospitals.”

A child on an adult’s shoulders waves a Palestinian flag.

A child on an adult’s shoulders waves a Palestinian flag.

Protesters gather in London calling for a ceasefire in Gaza, with a presenter speaking into a handheld wireless microphone.

Protesters gather in London calling for a ceasefire in Gaza, with a presenter speaking into a handheld wireless microphone in the foreground.

A protester holding an umbrella with the Palestinian flag and the message ‘Palestine will be free’ written on it.

A protester holds an umbrella with a Palestinian flag design and the message ‘Palestine will be free.’

A woman wearing a hijab walks along a London street, holding a Palestinian flag.

A woman wearing a hijab walks along a London street, holding a Palestinian flag.

A protester stands wrapped in a Palestinian flag, holding a sign that reads, “Your charities are used to repair what your taxes are used to destroy.”

A protester stands wrapped in a Palestinian flag, holding a sign that reads, ‘Your charities are used to repair what your taxes are used to destroy.’

Outside Westminster Underground station, a sign reads ‘Gaza: Stop the massacre.’

Outside Westminster Underground station, a sign reads ‘Gaza: Stop the massacre.’

As I write, the death toll is over 10,000 Palestinian lives, including more than 4,100 children and 2,640 women, and over 1,400 Israeli lives. These are individuals with names, dreams, and families. 

Our plea for a ceasefire is a plea for humanity. º

Against the backdrop of the UK Parliament, a hand-drawn cardboard sign reads ‘Silence is violence.’

Against the backdrop of the UK Parliament, a hand-drawn cardboard sign reads ‘Silence is violence.’

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