Muslim women in London create a 'safe space' to rally for Palestine

The group has helped to bring British-Palestinian families back to the UK

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Muslim women in London have come together to create a “safe space” at the Palestine protests.

Abirami Raveendran, an activist from west London, is part of a group who formed a bloc of mainly Muslim women who march together during the rallies.

“All these women are very passionate about the cause, but they don’t know what to do with it, and they don’t really have an outlet,” she told The National.

“Most of them don't even know each other. They will bring snacks, they will bring water, it's a very wholesome way to protest,” she said.

Last week, the group was formally recognised as the local branch for Hillingdon by the Palestine Solidarity Campaign, a nationwide protest movement.

National demonstrations calling for an end to Israel’s bombardment and siege of Gaza have taken place on a near-weekly basis since October 7.

These marches have gathered hundreds of thousands of protesters from a wide range of communities.

But a sharp rise in anti-Semitic and anti-Muslim incidents in the UK meant the protests for Palestine have seen additional policing.

Since forming, the group has become more politically active, writing to their MPs and councillors about the Palestinian issue.

“We’re literally just learning as we go,” Ms Raveendran said.

Recently, they worked together to help bring British-Palestinian families trapped in Gaza back to the UK.

Though the UK began evacuating British citizens from Gaza in November, some families have struggled to leave.

The women supported them by contacting local MPs and councils, and seeking legal advice, Ms Raveendran said.

“There’s only four or five of us. But we’re doing what the government refused to do, when none of us have any political power,” she said.

One family arrived just days ago, she added. They are being supported by members of the group, who are in regular contact with them and sending them food.

The group is now calling for the UK to accommodate Palestinian refugees or Palestinians seeking medical treatment, similar to the Ukraine resettlement scheme, which was launched within a month of Russia’s invasion in 2022.

“What the government did after two weeks for Ukraine, they haven't still done for Palestine, it's been over two months,” she said.

This is a fraught issue as Palestinians do not want to leave their homes, fearing a permanent displacement.

But Ms Raveendran fears the absence of a scheme supporting Palestinians is reflective of a “systemic racism” within the UK.

“Why haven’t the government acted like they did for Ukraine?

“It’s the double standard and the Islamophobia and the racism,” she said.

She criticised the UK's recent calls for a “sustainable ceasefire”, which would be implemented once Hamas no longer controls the Gaza Strip and all hostages are released.

“Even the terms they’re using now, like sustainable ceasefire, these are very vague and passive terms,” she said.

The group plans to continue its work during the holidays, with a local rally planned for January 6.

“We're getting different religious communities to come together. [Muslim] and Jewish communities, Sikh communities, Christian communities, Hindu communities,” she said.

“We want everyone to come together and fight for something that genuinely affects all of us,” she said.

Updated: December 24, 2023, 7:00 AM