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Fri 24 November 2017

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  • Anti-War Marches, London – 2001- 2003

British Muslims were able to form important alliances in their opposition to the US-led wars against Afghanistan (2001) and Iraq (2002). For the first time, Muslims found that they were not espousing some fringe issue as far as mainstream society was concerned, but their concerns were at the very heart of a wide social movement that deplored US policies and distanced itself from the actions of the Blair government. The rallies gradually increased in size: 20,000 took to the streets in October 2001; 100,000 in November 2001; 400,000 in September 2002; the record 2 million in March 2003, the largest political demonstration in the nation’s history.

The challenges of organising these events brought to the fore fresh talent, including Salma Yaqoob, who successfully engineered an alliance with the Socialist Workers Party/Socialist Alliance in Birmingham. The Muslim Association of Britain (MAB) and its activists gained invaluable experience in mobilising British Muslims, and also widened the agenda to include justice for Palestinians. In a memorable moment, the adhan was called out from the base of Nelson’s column in Trafalgar Square by Hassen Rasool, during the march held in Ramadan (18 November 2002).Volunteers from the Muslim Association of Britain also handed out dates for those present to break the fast - many non-Muslims too has fasted on the day as a show of support with Muslims.

"If only the leftists had been here today people would have said we're all leftists. If only CND has been here they would have said it was the middle-class elite. If it was only the Muslims they would have called us extremists. If it was only Asians and Black people they would have said it was the ethnic minorities. Tony Blair, we are here united against this war. You cannot dismiss us all."

Salma Yaqoob, Oct 13th 2001

“We speak for humanity. This is an argument between the people of the world and the rulers of the world.”

Tony Benn, Feb 15th 2003


Accounts of Marches

October 2001
September 2002
February 2003


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