Hundreds gather at Hong Lim Park in solidarity with people of Gaza

More than 300 people gathered at Hong Lim Park on Saturday afternoon to show their solidarity with the people of Gaza. -- ST PHOTO: MARK CHEONG
More than 300 people gathered at Hong Lim Park on Saturday afternoon to show their solidarity with the people of Gaza. -- ST PHOTO: MARK CHEONG

SINGAPORE - More than 300 people gathered at Hong Lim Park on Saturday afternoon to show their solidarity with the people of Gaza.

They were of different ethnicities and nationalities and arrived with their family and friends. Many wore red, green, black and white - the colours of the Palestine flag - and some also had Palestinian scarves draped around their necks.

The event was organized by From Singapore to Palestine (FS2P) - an independent group set up in 2012 to create awareness here about the situation in Palestine.

Since the outbreak of the latest round of hostilities with Israel on July 8, the death toll in Gaza has risen to more than 800, including many civilians.

Mr Muhammad Firdaus Marzuki, 26, founder of FS2P, was happy with the turnout.

The event started with a minute of silence for victims of the conflict, but 20 minutes later, there were also chants of "Free Palestine".

Nine speakers addressed the crowd, including Mr Osman Sulaiman, a human resource officer and member of the National Solidarity Party, blogger Ariffin Sha and former Singapore Democratic Party chairman Jufrie Mahmood.

Mr Jufrie urged the crowd to use social media to raise awareness of the Israel-Palestinian conflict. "It's because of social media that within less than twenty hours, you all could gather here and stand with the oppressed," he said to applause.

He was referring to the permit for the event, which was granted by the Police on Friday. Mr Firdaus said they had applied for a permit on July 14 but received approval more than a week later, after being questioned by the police about the event.

Singapore citizens can hold an outdoor demonstration at Speakers' Corner without the need for a police permit if the event's subject does not touch on race and religion, and it does not involve any foreigners. Outdoor demonstrations that do not meet these criteria will require a police permit.

Among those present at yesterday's gathering was Mr Mohamad Rashid, 28, who was holding a "Save Gaza" sign over his head. "Once I heard about the event, I started making signs," he said, adding: "Hari Raya preparations can wait."

Mr Benjamin Tan, 48, who stopped by with his wife, said: "Being here with so many people shows Singaporeans care. It's not about religion or nationality. All of us want to see the violence stop."

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