Who was the typical attendee? Here are some pictures of the crowd and their banners. Note the preponderance of “Free Palestine” signs. (And the ones saying, “Victory to the Iraqi Resistance!”) However the BBC quotes an ex-soldier and a lady from CND.
(Via Rottweiler Puppy – read his comments – and House of Dumb)
UPDATE: Following Rottweiler Puppy’s links, I see that the BBC ran not one but two picture-series illustrating the demo. (I don’t remember them doing that for the ten times bigger Countryside Alliance march.) This series of ten pictures consists of: (1) Side view of the crowd, (2) Man with lots of badges, (3) Lady with sign saying “Make Tea not War”, (4) Crowd shot from front, centred on a Trade Union banner, (5) Two ex-soldiers carrying symbolic model coffin – note the caption states as bald fact that 100,000 people have been killed by the war, a highly controversial claim, (6) Peace choir, (7) Coffin guys again, (8) Hippy with quirky sign, (9) “Women say no to war” sign carried, not surprisingly, by women, and finally (10) a shot from the speech platform where Messrs Benn and Galloway graced the multitudes.
This series of eight pictures shows (1) Mum & kid, (2) guy with sign saying “End occupation now”, (3) old lady, (4) the “make tea, not war” lady again, (5) gay rights activist Peter Tatchell, (6) family with dog, (7) a young Asian girl in Western dress, bareheaded, (8) Andrew Murray of the Stop The War Coalition. (And of the British Communist Party; not that you’d get any hint of that from the BBC.)
A splendid collection of lovable British eccentrics, eh? The BBC quotes a mother of two daughters who says their father is out there and who thinks it is nice that her girls can be around “people who care.” The Guardian says that, ‘Protesters sang: “George Bush, Uncle Sam, Iraq will be your Vietnam.”‘ Caringly, no doubt, but it is odd what a different tone the Guardian takes talking to the faithful compared to the BBC talking to a general audience.
Notably absent are crowd shots taken from such a distance that you can read a wide selection of banners, though picture (4) does show one “Free Palestine”. Compare them again to the pictures linked to earlier. I am told, though I do not know this from my own knowledge, that the green flags with Arabic writing are Hamas flags.
The BBC, somewhat defensively, mentions that the placards carried by the protesters were pre-printed. I must say at once that I recall from my own days attending CND and Anti-Nazi League marches that the distribution of banners may not accurately represent the distribution of opinion. That said, the banners do represent the people that the marchers are willing to be seen with.
All but one of these eighteen pictures focused on white people. Other reports of the march suggested that among the crowd there was quite a high percentage of non-white people, overwhelmingly Muslims. Many have enthused about the way Muslims have been brought into politics by this very issue. The Muslim Association of Britain, along with CND and the Stop the War Coalition, was one of the three organisations that organised the march. I fully support the right of people of all races, all religions and all opinions to peacefully demonstrate. But it is striking that the BBC, an organisation that usually goes out of its way to illustrate racial and religious diversity, should under-represent minorities and Muslims in traditional dress in its pictoral record of the demonstration.