Uni shuts down candlelight vigil

Last Thursday a candlelight vigil hosted by the Friends of Palestine Society to commemorate the lives lost during the current Israeli invasion was brought to a stop by University officials.

While the Piazza had been booked, when the society members began passing out and lighting candles the University’s Piazza booking officer, Kathleen Choudry, came and informed them that special permission was needed for Health and Safety reasons.

Some of the exec members went to the Union for help. They were directed to Lucy Reynolds but, as she was not there, then went to Governance and Finance Officer Andy Glyde.

As the candles were reportedly “kept to the side” and the exec standing by he gave them permission to light the candles for a minute. They then would have the opportunity to take photos as planned.

However, on the second lighting of the candles campus security came to tell them they were still not allowed to do so. They did say that a meeting could be arranged to discuss holding the vigil at another time.

Muna Hussen, the Society’s Head of Publicity said “Friends of Palestine feels disappointed that we could not light the commemorative display for the victims of the violence in Gaza, due to the University’s rules on health and safety.

“We are hoping to work with the University’s security to reschedule this event and hope that the University can support us on this.”

The society plans to apply for permission and, if it is granted, hold the candlelight vigil sometime next week.

This event was organised to bring attention to and to commemorate the loss of lives during the ongoing war in the Gaza Strip. On the Thursday the death toll stood at 700 Palestinians and 11 Israelis. Since then the number have risen on both sides.

Lina Nassar, the President, said that one of the major problems is how the media presents the events in Gaza, “what we are trying to do is raise awareness as the biggest problem is that people don’t know the Palestinian side of the story.”

The society’s Vice-President, Christos Symeou, added, “each number is a life so we’re highlighting the humanitarian side of the conflict.”

In the lead-up to the planned vigil the society had a stall from which they handed out flyers and information. In addition they collected donations on behalf of the victims.

The NUS has also added its voice to those who have condemned the violence in the region. Wes Streeting, NUS President, said, “we stand in solidarity with Israeli and Palestinian students in calling for an immediate ceasefire – an end to Hamas rocket attacks and the Israeli military operation and a fair, just and lasting peace between the Israeli and Palestinian people.”

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