Mass protests have taken place in London and many other cities across the country urging the government not to conduct airstrikes in Syria.
‘Don’t Bomb Syria’ signs were plentiful, as thousands of protesters took to the streets of the British capital to make their voices heard, in a rally organized by the Stop the War coalition.
The demonstration in London started outside Prime Minister David Cameron’s residence at 10 Downing Street. The rally was against a planned vote in Parliament about whether to support a motion for the UK to starting bombing Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS/ISIL) militants in Syria.
“We are very much opposed to David Cameron’s plans to have a vote in Parliament to bomb Syria. The bombing has already been going on for more than a year by other forces. ISIS is as strong as it was before the bombing started and also we have the record of 14 years of bombing, and every single country we have bombed, the wars are still going on there,” said Lindsey German, of Stop the War, during the demonstration.
Labour MP Diane Abbott spoke to the crowd saying Prime Minister Cameron was too busy trying to phone Labour MPs to get them to vote in favor of bombing Syria, than to make a concrete case for undertaking military action in the Middle Eastern country.
A list of UK musicians, politicians, academics and artists, including Brian Eno and Frankie Boyle wrote a letter to David Cameron urging him not to bomb Syria, saying a bombing campaign would not help in the fight against terrorism, but would rather aggravate the situation.
“Rather than ignoring this recent history by joining the long list of countries that have bombed Syria in the last year, we urge the government to stop arming reactionary and aggressive regimes like Saudi Arabia and Qatar that sponsor terrorist groups and look for political solutions as the only viable way to end the conflict,” the letter read, which was delivered 10 Downing Street.
Speaking in front of demonstrators in London, Eno said, “We’ve created a system which gives the biggest rewards to the greediest & worst to the most generous,” while he also condemned the likes of Saudi Arabia and Turkey for helping to fund Islamic State.
Demonstrations have also taken place in Manchester, Leeds, Bradford, Oxford, Bristol and other cities around the country.
French President Francois Hollande has urged the British to join the French in carrying out airstrikes against IS in Syria. He made the appeal two weeks after the terrorist attacks in Paris on November 13, which killed 130 people in the French capital.
“On November 13, a day we will never forget, France was hit at its very heart,” Hollande told a somber commemoration in the Invalides, the 17th century complex housing Napoleon’s tomb on Friday, as cited by AFP.
“To all of you, I solemnly promise that France will do everything to destroy the army of fanatics that committed these crimes,” he said.
Former British Prime Minister Tony Blair, who was instrumental in sending UK troops to fight in the US-led Iraq invasion in 2003, also supported British intervention in bombing Syria.
However, it would seem the majority of people in the UK are not in favor. An opinion poll suggested that 48 percent of Britons would support military strikes against IS, while 30 percent are opposed. The survey was carried out by the Daily Mirror newspaper.