Giant puppet Little Amal to join pro-Palestine protest in London

Little Amal will be accompanied by a group of Palestinian children during the seventh National March for Palestine.

Jordan Reynolds
Friday 12 January 2024 18:42 GMT
The Little Amal giant puppet of a Syrian refugee girl in Brighton in March. On Saturday the puppet will be part of a pro-Palestine protest in London (Gareth Fuller/PA)
The Little Amal giant puppet of a Syrian refugee girl in Brighton in March. On Saturday the puppet will be part of a pro-Palestine protest in London (Gareth Fuller/PA) (PA Archive)

A giant puppet of a Syrian child refugee will join a pro-Palestine protest in London on Saturday.

Little Amal, designed to highlight the plight of child refugees, will be accompanied by a group of Palestinian children during the seventh National March for Palestine.

Hundreds of thousands of protesters are expected to gather at Bank Junction at midday on Saturday as part of a global day of action for Palestine involving 30 countries, the Palestine Solidarity Campaign said.

On Saturday Amal walks for those most vulnerable and for their bravery and resilience

Amir Nizar Zuabi, artistic director of The Walk Productions

A “significant policing presence” will be seen this weekend with about 1,700 officers on duty to police the march on Saturday, including many from forces outside London, the Metropolitan Police said.

On Saturday a number of conditions will be in place, the force said, including: Any person participating in the procession must not deviate from the route specified; the speeches at the assembly following the procession must end by 4.30pm and the whole event must end by 5pm; no participant in the protest may enter the area around the Israeli Embassy.

The 3.5m puppet became an international symbol of human rights after she journeyed 8,000km from the Turkish-Syrian border to Manchester in July 2021.

Amal will walk with demonstrators calling for an immediate ceasefire in Gaza.

Groups will depart from Bank Junction about midday, heading via Fleet Street and Victoria Embankment to Parliament Square where speeches will take place.

Amir Nizar Zuabi, artistic director of The Walk Productions, and a Palestinian, said: “Amal has become a symbol of the vulnerability and resilience of the millions of people that met her or followed her journey.

“On Saturday Amal walks for those most vulnerable and for their bravery and resilience.

“Amal is a child and a refugee and today in Gaza childhood is under attack, with an unfathomable number of children killed. Childhood itself is being targeted. That’s why we walk.”

Ben Jamal, PSC director, said: “Israel has tried to ensure that Palestinians feel nothing but despair as they conduct a genocide in Gaza. But the world stands in solidarity with Palestinians and millions of people will protest this weekend in cities around the world.

“Amal means hope in Arabic, and her presence in London on the March for Palestine, as part of a Global Day of Action, gives us not just hope but determination to continue our campaign not only to end Israel’s current bombardment of the Gaza Strip, but to end the decades of military occupation and the system of apartheid under which Palestinians have lived for over 75 years.”

Meanwhile, on Sunday a pro-Israel rally will be held in Trafalgar Square from 2.30pm.

Speakers at the rally, organised by campaign group The 7/10 Human Chain, will include Israeli government spokesman Eylon Levy, Ayelet Svatitzky, whose mother and brother were kidnapped by Hamas, Lord Pickles and Christian Wakeford MP.

The majority of protests and other events held in recent months have taken place without any notable disorder, the Met Police said, but there has been a number of arrests.

There have been repeated examples of placards, banners and other items being carried or worn, or statements being chanted, that have crossed the line into religiously or racially aggravated offences – some have even been so serious as to be dealt with under the Terrorism Act, the force added.

The Met’s Counter Terrorism Command has launched around 30 investigations into suspected offending at protests since October 7, the majority of which relate to potential terrorism offences.

Deputy Assistant Commissioner Laurence Taylor, who will lead the policing operation this weekend, said: “We absolutely recognise the passion and strength of feeling sparked by the ongoing conflict and we respect the right of those who wish to protest and have their voices heard to do so.

I would appeal to those attending any protest event, whether this weekend or in the future, to consider how their actions will impact on the safety and security of others

Deputy Assistant Commissioner Laurence Taylor

“We police without fear or favour and where our policing approach differs it is a response to the intelligence and the nature of the event, not those taking part or the cause they represent.

“Officers are present primarily to ensure the safety of those involved, but where we see offences taking place, or where we are made aware of them either online or by other means, we will not hesitate to act.

“These protests and the offences connected to them have been widely reported on in the media and have been the subject of extensive discussions online.

“It is really disappointing that despite this, we have continued to see people turning up carrying placards, wearing clothing or chanting slogans that, certainly by this stage, they should know will cause alarm or distress to others.

“I would appeal to those attending any protest event, whether this weekend or in the future, to consider how their actions will impact on the safety and security of others.

“Those who intentionally push the limits of what may cross the line into criminality will face the consequences.

“I would encourage anyone at the protests who feels unsafe, or sees anything they are concerned about, to speak to an officer.”

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