UK cyclists ride for Palestine

UK cyclists ride for Palestine
4 min read
10 August, 2015
Crowds of people from different races and religions united to take part in a UK-based cycling event, covering 435 miles in hopes to raise awareness and funds for Palestine.

The Big Ride Palestine

Hundreds of cyclists took to the streets of London over the weekend to mark the finale of one of Britain's biggest bike ride events helping to raise awareness and funds for the ongoing tragedies in Palestine.

The Big Ride Palestine successfully drew crowds of people from a number of religions, races and backgrounds, all for one cause – Palestine.

The symbolic UK event raised over £50,000 (over $77,000) for The Middle East Children’s Alliance (MECA), a non-governmental organisation focusing on the rights of children.

Cyclists completed the 435 mile capital-to-capital ride from Edinburgh to London

"More and more people are becoming aware that justice for the Palestinians is the greatest cause of our time” British film director Ken Loach, who supported the event, said.

During last summer's 50-day war, over 2,000 Palestinians were killed, more than 10,000 were wounded and 100,000 were left homeless.

The conflict left over 500 children dead and 3,000 injured.

A study by Save the Children in July found that over 80 percent of parents reported that their children in Gaza now suffer from constant feelings of fear, many worrying about another war.

"It is important to show the people of Palestine that we are appalled by the long and horrendous suffering they have endured at the hands of the Israeli government," British actress Maxine Peake, another supporter of the event, said.

Event organiser, Dermot MacWard, explained to al-Araby al-Jadeed how the initiative was born. "I was becoming more and more interested in what was happening in Gaza, but saw that nothing was being done about it. It was then I decided it was time to take some action."

MacWard expressed his delighted over the positive response his initiative received, not only from the public, but from high profile figures and personalities.

"The main thing for us is to raise awareness about the injustice that continues to haunt Palestine and its people," he added.

The Big Ride

Participants of The Big Ride Palestine set off from Scotland's capital city Edinburgh on 1 August making their way through Newcastle upon Tyne, to Bradford, into Sheffield and then Northampton to Luton and ending in London on 9 August, successfully completing the 435 mile capital-to-capital ride.

Enthusiasm and excitement echoed all over the different cities where riders toured, as families and friends of participants encouraged them on.

Fifteen-year-old Ciaran Wakefield, from Sheffield was one of the many youngsters who took part in the charitable event.

"This has definitely been a great experience for me, it has given me the opportunity to be more involved in defending, supporting and raising awareness for the Palestinian cause," Wakefield told al-Araby al-Jadeed.

British Labour Party politician Grahame Morris, who also chairs the Labour Friends of Palestine & the Middle East, gave a talk on the final day of the event in London on Sunday, along with Salim Alam, from Palestine Solidarity Campaign UK and Dr Mona El-Farra, vice president of Red Crescent and Director of MECA in Gaza.

The key figures addressed a number of issues including the current situation in Gaza, last year's war and most recently, the horrendous arson attack by Jewish extremists on a Palestinian family where an 18-month old baby and his father were killed.

"There are no words to explain how people are living in Gaza," Dr Mona El-Farra said, as she gave an emotionally charged speech, sharing her situation as an example and representation of the plight of Palestinian people.

Farra lost nine members of her family - five of them children - after an Israeli airstrike hit the family home in Khan Younis, southern Gaza last August.

"One would need to live in Gaza for at least three months to truly understand what people there are really going through," Farra added.

She stressed the importance of such events to help highlight the injustice and atrocities Palestinian people face, in hopes that it will eventually reach governments and bring an end to the suffering.

"We need to remind Palestinians that they are not alone," she said.

"We will not stop fighting against the injustice and discrimination they continue to endure."