Montreal pro-Palestinian march for Gaza

Protesters are demanding solidarity and support for Palestine

Over ten thousand supporters gathered on the SGW campus for Gaza. Photo Andraé Lerone Lewis

On Oct. 13, thousands of protesters gathered to stand in solidarity with the people in Gaza to march down De Maisonneuve Boulevard and reach the Israeli consulate located on 1 Westmount Square.

With the streets blocked, flags raised, and chants sung, demonstrators  let everyone know they will not stand by and watch silently as the Gaza Strip and its inhabitants are bombed.

On Oct. 7, the Palestinian militant group Hamas broke the border between the Palestinian city and the surrounding Israeli settlement, and killed 1,300 Israelis. The Zionist government responded by launching an ongoing deadly attack on Gaza. Since then, the Israeli government has also bombed three neighbouring countries— Egypt, Lebanon, and Syria—and released white phosphorus on populations in both Gaza and Lebanon.

“We want Canada to stop funding the genocide of the Palestinians,” said Bara Abuhamed, an organizer of the All Out for Gaza protest. Many protesters and organizers chose to cover their faces and refused to share their names to protect themselves from being recognized by the media. Protesters fearfacing repercussions in the future because of their pro-Palestinian stances. These concerns come from the recent increase in violence and hate towards pro-Palestinians, whether it be through hate speech or a blacklist of anyone in North America who is involved in the Palestinian liberation movement.

Several organizers acknowledged that this conflict has taken on a new, almost propagandic aspect. Rania, a Palestinian Youth Movement (PYM) organizer argued that it “is a false narrative trying to pin the Palestinian people and their struggle as their equal to a settler colonial state that is propped up by the world’s largest superpower.”

“Gaza has been under a 16-year-old blockade, and they’ve been bombed year after year and the media does not cover it in any way like they do to Israeli lives,” she said. “Israel manufactures consent in order to genocide Gaza by spewing misinformation and lies and getting the public opinion to allow genocide in Gaza. We must stop this.”

One protester, Linda, believes in the importance of displays of public disagreement. She acknowledged that doing so is emotionally taxing. “I’m sure everyone’s mental health took a hit,” she said. “We’re in a position where we feel powerless against injustice. We really feel like we can’t do anything on our own, but showing up like this is still better than nothing.”

A protester holds up a sign reading “anti-zionism does not equal anti-Judaism”. Photo Andraé Lerone Lewis

Near the end of the protest, the people participating joined one of the organizers in praying for Palestinians who lost their lives. After making dua and reciting  Al-Fatiha verses from the Quran, the protesters participated in a minute of silence to honour the non-Muslims who were also victims of the violence.

Several times during the evening, speakers called for the “protection for Arabs, Muslims and Palestinians.”

“You only need to be a human to stand up for Palestine,” a member of Solidarity for Palestinian Human Rights (SPHR) Concordia said. “The people united will never be defeated.” At the end of his speech, he broke down in tears at the sight of so many people marching for Palestine. “I can raise my head high thanks to you all,” he said in Arabic.

As the evening came to an end, fireworks in the colour of the Palestinian flag lit up the sky.

Abuhamed and Rania’s voices were strained. While Rania argued for the necessity of bringing together several organizations to have the “loudest and most unified voice,” Abuhamed expressed gratitude towards the people who showed up.

“You see these people? I don’t have to do anything. We just have to make sure the logistics are there, and the people do the rest, they come out on their own,” he said.