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Viva Palestina: Making Its Way Through Morocco

Posted by on Feb 19th, 2009 and filed under Community. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

By YVONNE RIDLEY

AS a journalist I love being first with the news so when I was handed a red hot exclusive story a few hours ago I could barely contain myself.

I already had a captive audience having just finished a live broadcast for Press TV in front of scores of members of the Viva Palestina convoy which is currently making its way through Morocco.

“Listen up everyone,” I shouted as they walked towards their hotel from the car park where Press TV’s outside broadcast vehicle was parked.

They turned and gathered around and then the words came tumbling out: “Ten minutes ago police released the Burnley Three without charge and they are heading our way to hook up with the convoy.”

Most times I never get to see peoples’ reactions to my exclusive news breaks, but this time I did and the “wow” factor was amazing.

Viva Palestina convoy members jumped up and down for joy and shouted “Allahu Akbar”.

I was referring to the three men who had been arrested as part of an anti terrorist operation which just happened to be performed on the eve of departure for the history-making convoy led by George Galloway.

Of course the so-called anti terror raid made huge headlines in the British media which had, until that moment, shown little or no interest in Viva Palestina.

I wonder if the convoy gets the same amount of newsprint and airtime devoted to this good news story to redress the balance. I doubt it.

I didn’t get a chance to see George Galloway’s reaction, but as┬áthe leader of the 110 vehicle British aid convoy bound for Gaza, he has now spoken of his anger at the high profile Lancashire Constabulary police action which led to the arrest of nine innocent men who set off to join the Viva Palestina convoy last Friday.

Six of the nine were released without charge some days ago and are now heading for Tunisia in three vehicles laden with humanitarian supplies for the people of Gaza. But three more were detained in custody for almost a week before being released without charge this afternoon.

The negative publicity which the arrests attracted had a knock on effect and Viva Palestina organisers said that there was a drop of 80% in donations.

Sadly the media continues to give Viva Palestina a wide berth, with a few notable exceptions including Press TV.

This is a real shame because they’ve really missed out on some excellent stories including:

*Heroic convoy members saving the lives of 20 Moroccan policemen after a near-fatal road crash near Fes.

*Heroic London mother-of-six battling cancer continues her mercy mission for the sake of the children of Gaza.

*History in the making as Morocco and Algeria open their land borders for the first time in nearly two decades to let the mercy convoy pass.

Of course most of those making the headlines are Muslims and as we know, the Islamaphobic media in Britain prefers to write about Muslims in a negative way.

But this flawed news judgment reflects badly on them and not the Viva Palestina crew who come from all parts of Britain – they might not have been born in the UK but they are doing their adopted country proud.

* Yvonne Ridley is on board the Viva Palestina convoy with award-winning film-maker Hassan al Banna Ghani – her website is www.yvonneridley.org

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