Sunday, August 17, 2014

Protesting for Palestine

A man waves a Palestinian flag today near the Parque Nacional in Bogotá.
Pro-Palestinian activists waved flags and handed out white flowers today in front of the Parque Nacional, in condemnation of recent Israeli attacks on the Gaza Strip.

A woman in Islamic dress hands out
white flowers in front of the
Parque Nacional in Bogotá.
Certainly, one's heart goes out to these people. The conflict, however, isn't so simple. If Hamas hadn't started firing rockets at Israel, then Israel wouldn't have fired back. However, Israel's response does seem very disproportionate, and it also seems to me that long-time injustices by Israel against Palestinians feed the anger.

Colombia has small, but apparently growing, Islamic and Arabic communities. Enough, in fact, to justify the construction recently of a large mosque in north Bogotá. Many of the protesters I spoke with were Colombian-born women who had converted to Islam, presumably in order to marry Moslem immigrants.

While Colombia has never experienced immigration on the same scale as other South American nations, during the early 20th century immigrants from Lebanon and Syria settled on Colombia's Caribbean coast, particularly in the city of Barranquilla. Most of those people were apparently either already Catholic or later converted. The best-known Colombian of Arabic heritage is undoubtedly Shakira, whose father moved here from Lebanon, via New York. Today, the trading town of Maicao on the Venezuelan border feels like a little piece of the Middle East.
Demonstrators hold a Palestinian flag.
A pro-Palestine demonstrator hands out white flowers to symbolize children killed in the Gaza Strip.
'Neither Islamic fundamentalism nor imperialism.' A mural near Bogotá's Cementerio Central.
By Mike Ceaser, of Bogotá Bike Tours

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