THE SECOND LEG of the 2019 Big Ride for Palestine ran in Manchester on Saturday 3rd August, one week after the first leg in London. 399 cyclists cycled 36 miles in London and 45 miles in Manchester as an act of solidarity showing there are people all around the UK - Muslims, Jews, Christians, people of other faiths or no faith, and from the age of 14 to 81 - who are prepared to stand up for Palestine.
The Big Ride aims to highlight human rights abuses endured by the Palestinian people, the brutal military occupation of Gaza and the West Bank and Israel’s continued violation of international laws. It collects funds for sports projects for children in Gaza and has raised almost £150,000 in its first four years for the Middle East Children’s Alliance (MECA), a charity that specialises in working with children traumatised by living under military occupation. Dr Mona El Farra, MECA’s Director in Gaza, managed to leave Gaza for the fourth year out of five to ride a few miles, saying, “You are sending a message to the Palestinian people that they have not been abandoned.”
Tower Hamlets council’s decision to ban the Big Ride for Palestine from holding its London rally in a local park has been widely condemned. The Big Ride is calling on Labour Party branches to pass motions expressing disagreement with the decision.
Chandni Chopra, a Newcastle born activist, riding for the fourth year, told the Manchester riders: “We are not antisemitic when we criticise Israel and its policies, nor when we talk about human rights for Palestinians. We are merely being human.”
One rider wrote to the organisers saying, “I cannot do justice to the level of public support we have had on the road - shops and restaurants emptied, people cheered and cars beeped their horns. A brilliant experience.”