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To protest for Palestine as Muslims

I know that several organisations in Australia oppose the protests against Israel. Many argue that what we need to do is to simply pray for Gaza and become a better practicing Muslim.

Hizb-ut-Tahrir, on Saturday 12th of July, the day Melbourne came out in protest against Israeli brutality, released a statement asking Muslims not to join the protests. It is the only statement from an organisation that I found clearly rejecting the protests.

it does not serve the Islamic cause, our cause, to respond by protesting on non-Islamic platforms, raising flags that are a direct product of the same colonial legacy that gave birth to ‘Israel’, or calling upon the ‘international community’, the UN, or the Australian Government, all of whom are part of the problem, not the solution

You can read the full statement.

I will present two key points/questions for Hizb-ut-Tahrir to counter, then provide my own argument as a Palestinian Muslim who has been involved in different ways in Melbourne rallies against Israel since 2006.

Firstly: If the Hizb opposes protesting on non-Islamic platforms, does it condemn and reject the Arab Spring?

Would it prefer the mass movement on the streets go home unless people are coming out with the flags and banners of Khilafah? Does it believe a collection of people from all walks of life tearing down tyrant governments is unnecessary and unIslamic? That people’s movements, that the decades long Global Palestinian Solidarity Movement is part of the problem because it identifies with the colonial Palestinian flag as its symbol of nation? Is this point of disagreement with the movements enough to refuse to join them, and actually actively call on followers to reject these actions?

Rally in Melbourne, 12th of July.

Secondly: If the Hizb believes calling on governments is part of the problem, why does it issue statements and speak against the government in the media and in lectures and forums? How is this outside the sphere of calling on governments? Who does the Hizb address in their condemnations if not the government?

On Saturday we condemned the silence of world leaders that puts all of humanity to shame. We condemned the United Nations for its inability and unwillingness to respond to crises facing humanity. We demanded that shameful governments all around the world start acting for justice, cut ties with Israel, and end the suffocating siege on Gaza. They are the powerful that we are bringing to account. Not because we give them our oath and pledge, but because they are in positions of privilege and power and they need to know that the people do not accept their complicity, and if it’s not in these rallies or the next, this cause or another, one day, it is the people demanding justice across the world who will turn against these governments if they continue sabotaging the human in us. How is making these statements loud and clear part of the problem?

How can anyone imply that the Palestinian Solidarity Movement is unIslamic in its demand to pressure people in positions of power and responsibility to isolate, boycott, condemn and cut ties with Israel? To change the opinions on the streets and university halls from being completely pro-Zionist to a position that recognises Israel as an illegal Apartheid, Terrorist Occupation?

From where I stand, I see the protests against Israel and the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions Movement (BDS), on un-Islamic platforms, fundamental to the struggle for Palestine internationally. Muslims, Jews, Christians, Islamists, Communists, Socialists, Anarchists, anyone with a conscience should be supporting collective action against Israel, rather than solely promote their own isolated efforts to tackle the issue. We don’t have to agree on what happens once Palestine is free. We need to accept that the Palestinian issue is a crisis for humanity and no one group or sect can take ownership of the issue. Solidarity is in supporting the oppressed against their oppression, accepting the diverse symbols and flags and methods that they use to represent themselves given that the demands are unified in uncompromisingly standing against Israeli occupation.

As a Muslim who is Palestinian I will never sit at home while the streets of my city fill with chants and banners and people who support the dignified resilience of my people. It is as simple as this.

As Muslims, we have a duty to put our hands together with our allies against the massacres, for the sake of our brothers and sisters in Gaza who need global solidarity to continue standing firm against the occupier.

I just want to provide three images that for me reveal the importance and significance of Muslims joining our protest against Israeli brutality last Saturday in Melbourne, and our upcoming protest this Saturday at 1pm at the State Library.

1. Family found space to express their identity as Palestinians who will never give up their right to homeland

2. Thirteen year old whose father was born in Gaza: I know without a doubt that Gaza will be free.

3. Letter from student who saw a photo of her teacher at the protest

I hope that as a Muslim community in Australia we can begin to find a more widespread and unified endorsement of collective action for dire causes and that we bring from our Islam a determination to struggle against the oppressors because we believe that Allah will bring victory against the oppressors and complicit governments.