International Al-Quds Day is an annual event held in all major cities of the world to express support for the struggle of Palestinians, and stand firmly in opposition to the crimes of Israel. Quds Day was first conducted in 1979 by the late Imam Ruhollah Khomeini, where he stated “I invite Muslims all over the globe to observe the last Friday of Ramadan as Al-Quds Day, and to pledge support and solidarity to the people of Palestine and their legitimate rights. I ask all the Muslims of the world and the Muslim governments to join hands and sever the hand of this usurper and its supporters”.
Since that day, Quds Day has grown into an internationally recognized day where not only Muslims but humanity flock in support of the Palestinian struggle and all oppressed people of the world. It is marked as a day against oppressors, where people display their duty as human beings, which is to raise their voices for those being killed, imprisoned and tortured by colonizers, regimes or imperialists forces. This year, around 800 cities around the world held these demonstrations, the countries ranged from the UK, US, Australia, Nigeria, India, Pakistan, Syria, Lebanon, Italy, Japan, Indonesia, Canada all the way to the besieged land of Yemen. The Yemenis came out in a record breaking crowd, filling the streets of Sanaa despite themselves facing the continuous sieges and bombs of Saudi Arabia and its allies.
Even within Palestine, tens of thousands of locals took part in Al-Quds Day marches after completing their Friday prayers. Leaders across various Palestinian factions called for a ‘one-million-man march’ on Al-Quds Day. In Ramallah, a large billboard devoted to Al-Quds Day has also been erected, which bears a quote of Imam Khomeini “Al-Quds International day is a day of confrontation between the oppressed and the oppressor”.
The power of the Quds Day marches come from its ability to unite people across ideological and religious lines. Every year many Al-Quds demonstrations have Jewish contingents, as they recognise that Quds Day is anti-Zionist and not anti-Jewish. Another example of this uniting factor was seen in 1988, when the Jerusalem Committee of the Organisation of Islamic Conference (OIC) declared that Al-Quds Day be observed publicly throughout the Arab World.
When millions come out on the streets chanting ‘Free, Free Palestine’, waving Palestinian flags and denouncing the Zionist forces this gives hope and strength to the Palestinians within Gaza and West Bank. It lets them know that millions of fellow Muslims and humans of other faiths have their back. It lets them know that despite being scattered around the globe, the Ummah will continue to respond to their voices, they will continue to condemn their oppressors until they see complete liberation. When you are a people who have been resisting for 70 years, and lost countless family members to the crimes of Israel, to see the scenes of Quds Day rallies around the world is a feeling of renewed strength and hope.
In spirit of its united stance, the participators of Al-Quds Day recognize that the source of destruction and instability in the Middle East region is the existence of Israel. All conflicts in the Middle East have links to the ideals of Zionism and their global allies (US, UK, Saudi Arabia and allies), who will do anything to protect Israel. This ability to recognize the Zionist oppressors in all their faces is what scares the opposition about the Al-Quds day movement. It is a politically aware movement which is spreading across the world, as every year the number of cities involved is only increasing.
This is also why you will see Al-Quds Day marches recognizing and speaking about the oppression occurring in Yemen, Syria, Burma, Iraq, Pakistan, Kashmir, Nigeria etc. Because this is a struggle which is united across all fronts. That is why the initiator of Al-Quds Day said, “The Al-Quds Day is a universal day. It is not an exclusive day for Quds (Jerusalem). It is a day for the oppressed and the supporters of oppressed to rise and stand up against the arrogant oppressors”.
However, just like every Palestinian solidarity movement this one also faces its fair share of false accusations by Zionist supporters around the globe. Iran-sponsored, Hamas-propaganda, Hezbollah sponsored rallies…and the list goes on. Other than the obvious divide and conquer aim, these accusations are quite demeaning. Firstly, they suggest that us human beings don’t have the agency to organise and execute events without foreign-state sponsorship. Secondly, they aim to portray resistance movements that have always stood for the Palestinians as villains you don’t want to be associated with. Yes, people proudly drape themselves in Hezbollah flags, yes, the man who initiated this day was an Irani… so what? This however, doesn’t mean these rallies are sponsored by these groups or are serving their personal ideals. This movement is a grass-roots movement carried out by free-spirited individuals who are free to align themselves with which ever group they wish. Thirdly, and most importantly it takes away focus from the cause we organize for, Palestine. It moves the attention away from Israel’s crimes and seeks to weaken the strength of this movement.
In a time where the silence of the global community is deafening, a day like Al-Quds that serves to shake the sleeping giants within us is to be treasured. In some demonstrations this year, people held symbolic coffins of Israel to signify the numbered days of this ‘cancerous’ oppressor. If the spirit of resistance and unity that Al-Quds Day ignites within us is nurtured and brought to fruition, this symbolism will very soon become a reality.