Shortly Ahead of Nakba Day, Montrealers Mark al-Quds Day

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Going Back to Palestine, the Church of the Resurrection & Masjid ul-Aqsa Is Much Closer Than Ever


Shortly Ahead of Nakba Day (May 15th), “Al-Quds Day Action Committee of Montreal” marked al-Quds International Day, bringing together community leaders, academics, and representatives of immigrant societies. 

Held on the last Friday of the Month of Ramadhan (May 14th), the event was presented by Zahraa Sayyid Ali and Rayyan Qobeisi. The audience were comforted by a cantillation of Quraanic verses by Hassaan Qaseer.

After iftaar [dinner eaten after day fasting is over], Michelle Hartman, Professor of Arabic Literature at McGill University’s Institute of Islamic Studies made a speech. “I’m honoured to address you tonight as we mark al-Quds Day in the Month of Ramadhan. We’ve seen callous events unfold in Palestine, mainly in al-Quds (Jerusalem) during the Month of Ramadhan, which is being observed simultaneously with Christian and Jewish Passover,” Hartman said.

“Soldiers have callously arrested, detained, beat and tortured Palestinian civilians, especially in al-Quds and al-Aqsa. That completely contradicts the spirit of this holy month and reminds people living afar, like us, of what Palestinians are going through,” stated the professor.

Noting that she was addressing people concerned with what’s happening in Palestine and al-Quds and Palestinians’ right to live unoppressed, Hartman said action must be taken and emphasised the importance of boycotting Israeli goods sold in Montreal’s megastores and elsewhere. Hartman suggested the goods could be replaced with goods from other countries. Israeli oranges, for example, could be replaced with Moroccan ones.

The professor as well urged the attendees to “do all kinds of work that could be done to provide continuous support for this rightful cause.” Hartman recommended explaining “what’s befalling the Palestinians to others, just like observing the holy Month of Ramadhan is explained to people.” She suggested talking others into boycotting Israeli oranges and grocers into selling oranges exported from other places, “We might even need to campaign against dealers selling Israeli goods and contact their head offices to oppose the trade.”

“Even though this might sound not enough, we can, unfearfully, change the reality in Palestine once we all work together. The more of us there is, the harder it becomes for adversaries to target us. You see, it’s very important that we stand up for each other,” Hartman emphasised, noting that throughout her advocacy for Palestine, she has met pro-Palestinian advocates of diverse backgrounds, faiths and ethnicities. The speaker then reminded the attending Montrealers that there are many local youth associations and others working for Palestine.   

Afterwards, John Philpot, a senior criminal litigation attorney who’s practised Criminal Law in Montreal since 1984 and International Criminal Law since 1998, made a spech.

Sheikh Ali Sbeiti, who heads the Muslim Community Centre of Montreal, asked the attendees to dedicate a recitation of the first chapter of the holy Quraan to the “martyrs who sacrificed their lives for the sake of al-Quds and Palestine.” Sheikh Sbeiti then said, “Al-Quds Day is reminiscent of the righteous devotee who named every last Friday of every Month of Ramadhan al-Quds Day, doing so only a few months after the revolution In Iran had succeeded and Shah Mohammed Reza Pahlavi was overthrown.”

Sheikh Sbeiti noted that “contrary to what is generalised, it isn’t only religion, faith, race or doctrine that brings people together. For instance, Pahlavi used to make food offerings during Muharram [the Hijri month when Imam Hussein is mourned], but he was a puppet of the US administration and Zionism, always persecuting anti-colonialists.”  

Moreover, Sbeiti deemed that “overthrowing the Shah and replacing the Embassy of Israel in Iran with the Embassy of Palestine created a turning point for the entire region. That contradicted the Camp David Accords that seemed like peace agreements but were actually meant to bury the Palestinian cause and settle the Palestinian people in Lebanon [so that they wouldn’t claim their stolen lands]. Back then, many thought that the greatest powers and militaries couldn’t be fought back. Desperation was meant to fill people’s hearts and minds so that the Palestinian cause would be forgotten.”

“Today’s surprise is that those fighting and sacrificing their lives in Palestine are youth. They haven’t been frustrated, showing that rightful owners are capable of claiming their rights back. It is heart-warming to see immigrant youth in many countries mark this day, just like the young attendees here with us are doing tonight. You, young ones, have insisted on honouring this day just like every year, so thank you for infuriating those who pay millions to push others to give up on Palestine. You are relentlessly showing everyone that right must be fulfilled, and that going back to Palestine, the Church of the Resurrection and Masjid ul-Aqsa is now much closer than ever,” concluded His Eminence.

Following Sheikh Sbeiti’s speech, Hussein Ali Ismaeel, Haj Abu Taalib Nasrullah and the Palestinian Youth Movement’s Mehmood Khaleel recited poems dedicated to Palestine.  

Notably, cards stating that the iftaar ceremony was held to honour the souls of martyred Palestinian children were placed on the tables.