Crying out for Palestine from the shores of Newfoundland

Josh Pennell
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A massacre is how demonstrators at Harbourside Park in St. John’s described the situation in Palestine on Thursday evening.

Demonstrators numbering in the several hundreds protesting the situation in Palestine, marched through the streets of downtown St. John's Thursday evening.— Photo by Rhonda Hayward/The Telegram

Several hundred people — many,  but by no means all of Middle Eastern descent — gathered with signs and petitions to be signed. An area of notorious upheaval, Palestine has been marked by increased violence recently and a rising death toll.

Mohamad El Bakri who helped organize the event, and led the group who gathered as they marched down Water Street and back up Duckworth Street, said the event was about raising awareness about what is happening in Palestine.

“They need to know that there’s a massive massacre happening against the Palestinian kids and the people in Gaza. It’s a continuous murder of kids, of women. There’s no discrimination between old or young or a baby or an infant. They’re just massively killing people,” he said.

The line was long and the signs many as the group moved through downtown St. John’s.

People came out of pubs, shops and stores to watch the group march. While it was certainly a peaceful demonstration, it was by no means a quiet one.

The group had a message and they meant to be heard.

El Bakri lead chants through a loudspeaker of “Free free Palestine, occupation is a crime” and “Gaza, Gaza, don’t you cry, Palestine will never die.” Behind him the voices of the people marching — from children to all ages of adults — echoed his chants in unison.

“It’s a massive human catastrophe. And people need to know,” El Bakri told The Telegram.

In a place more historically familiar with impassioned fishermen making demonstrations, the throng of a multicultural group taking over half the road as they cried for justice in a place so far away was a reminder of the changing face of St. John’s.

It also illuminated how living close to a place of war can create compassion, rather than an appetite for more fighting.

“It doesn’t have to happen in our country, in our backyard for us to feel sympathetic toward other human beings overseas,” El Bakri said.

A refugee of Lebanon who has been here for several years, El Bakri called living here a blessing.

“To be honest with you, I consider myself to be one of the luckiest. To be able to live in a place where I have rights. Where I can live in peace. Where I can put my head on a pillow and not fear if I’m gonna be bombed or if I’m gonna wake up the next day.”

But being grateful of being here doesn’t mean forgetting about what’s happening to people in other parts of the world far from where he is now and far.

“My heart is still there. I still reach out. And it’s not only with Palestine. It’s with any other troubled place.”

Organizations: The Telegram

Geographic location: Palestine, Gaza, Newfoundland Water Street Duckworth Street Lebanon

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Recent comments

  • Serena LeGrow
    July 26, 2014 - 10:56

    Excellent!! Thank goodness people are paying attention to what is happening to the Palestinian people.

  • Anonymous
    July 26, 2014 - 08:19

    I have lived in Israel and prayed for all of Abrahams children, both Arab and Jew alike(who by the way are brothers) to come to that very realization. This article and information only stirs up more anger, confusion and a one-sided story. We need to be very careful when we publish only part of a story that goes back thousands of years. Peace!

  • JackieLogans
    July 25, 2014 - 14:00

    When is anti-Israel action just the masking of anti-Semitism? Israel has bent over backwards trying, unsuccessfully since 1948, to get a peace treaty signed with the Palestinians. The best brains on the planet have failed to get the Arab neighbours of the primarily Jewish state to agree to peace. Israel leaves the Gaza Strip totally, and yet the Hamas government there refuses even to recognize the existence of the sovereign state of Israel. An ongoing terror campaign of sending rockets into Israel from Gaza is unrelenting. So, the question is: just what is Israel supposed to do? What is the solution? Is it a completely hopeless situation, short of the Arabs driving the Jews into the sea (which Israel, with nuclear weapons, will never allow)?

    • Jed
      July 30, 2014 - 09:02

      The simple facts are there 1284 Palestinians dead, 82% of them are civilians (including hundreds of children) . On the other side there are 55 Israelis dead nearly all of them are soldiers. Hospitals, UN schools and power stations in Gaza are destroyed by the mightiest army in the Middle East.A very good record for the Israelis!!! one of the saddest and unfortunate thing is that many people here are cheering the bully.

    • mari
      August 05, 2014 - 02:39

      When Israel would not be killing innocent people. this situation is not about history and what happened 2000 years ago, this is about an occupying power killing people who they have placed in an open air jail! please let us get in touch with our humanity what Israel and the Israeli people are doing is inhuman no peace can come from the extermination of the Palestinian people.

  • Stephen Harris
    July 25, 2014 - 10:01

    This is a really great article. Thank you so much for covering this important event. The turnout was amazing!