Thursday, January 22, 2009

Gaza demo - Abu Dhabi


This was a while ago. I had been mainly watching the war in Gaza on Al Jazeera Arabic and I have to admit they do some very good quality (& obviously partisan) montages using various footage, punchy photos, inventive lettering and dramatic music. So the intro and outro to this slideshow are influenced by that...

The demo itself was pretty big, surprisingly so. There are a lot of Palestinians in the UAE, some (many?) from families that left the Palestine area after the war in 1948, never to return. You sometimes see references to this population in news articles or blogs, they are often described as the "smarter and more capable" Palestinians of the time. Anyway, the UAE doesn't have a tradition of encouraging demonstration so the fact that police closed off the Corniche for several thousand people to walk along yelling is significant. Some of the chants and placards were pretty hairy by sensitive Western standards, with women leading kids in chants of "Death to Israel" and so on.

Indeed had this demo taken place in the UK there could easily have been arrests for "incitement to racial hatred" (which saw people jailed in the UK for encouraging the bombing of European countries during a protest against publication of the Mohammed Cartoons. The same charge could have been levelled at John McCain for his contemptible chant of "Bomb-bomb-bomb Iran").

But obviously this wasn't the UK, this is the Middle East and things are different. The overall mood was lively but not confrontational - one UK colleague professed slight disappointment that there hadn't been more friction between demonstrators and the police. But again, that's how they do things in Europe, not in the UAE...

3 comments:

Adrian Murphy said...

It's a novelty to see a protest in the UAE. In fact you could say it's unique. No unions, no parties (political) and for most of the populace no need. There have been a few workers' demonstrations in Dubai however. Many of the demonstrators were put in prison.

Adrian Murphy said...

It's a novelty to see a protest in the UAE. In fact you could say it's unique. No unions, no parties (political) and for most of the populace no need. There have been a few workers' demonstrations in Dubai however. Many of the demonstrators were put in prison.

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