British MP George Galloway delivered a passionate and confronting speech about the Arab revolution to a packed Sydney Town Hall last night.
His 90-minute speech covered the Palestinian/Israeli conflict, the Syrian crisis, the WikiLeaks/Julian Assange case, the Egyptian revolution, the Lebanese political climate and Iran’s nuclear weapon program.
Receiving a standing ovation on both entrance and exit, he began his speech by greeting everyone with “Assalamu alaikum” – meaning peace be with you – the traditional greeting Muslims use with one another.
“Wa alaikum assalaam (And upon you be peace),” the crowd responded in unison.
“More than 1,000 people in Sydney have gathered [tonight] to discuss real politics,” he told them.
The audience’s applause roared through the auditorium every few minutes when he made pro-Palestinian and other political points; since the World Trade Centre attacks in 2001, the association of Muslim Arabs with terrorism has left many Arabs feeling unfairly and incorrectly portrayed in the mainstream media.
“He isn’t afraid to speak his mind,” an audience member said.
Galloway defended Iran’s decision to continue with its nuclear program, saying that Iran hadn’t attacked or invaded another country in 200 years. “I wish I could say the same about my country,” he lamented. He also urged people to vote for Julian Assange in the upcoming elections.
He spoke positively of controversial Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s treatment of Palestinians, which prompted this reporter to ask Galloway whether he believed Assad’s good treatment of Palestinians compensated for his war crimes.
“Yes, al-Assad did bad things. He was cruel but foolish,” Galloway replied. “Bashar himself [later] condemned these crimes.”
In his conclusion, Galloway told the audience that it only takes a few drops of rain to transform the desert and that “[these revolutions] are the drops of rain which will transform the Arab landscape”. – Story and photo by Sara Sachawars
Top photo: George Galloway speaking at Town Hall last night.