Friday, 8 Dec 2023

Outrage after poppies taken off Rochdale Cenotaph and Palestine flags put up

A Cenotaph in Rochdale was stripped of its poppies before Palestinian flags were put in its place on Sunday, upsetting visitors hoping to pay their respects.

A video showing a man returning the Remembrance wreaths and flowers to the memorial and chucking several Palestinian flags to the side has been circulating on X, formerly Twitter.

One X user replied to the post, saying: “Great post. Respect to the gentleman whoever he is.” Another replied: “Well done young man.”

Rochdale Borough Council also replied, saying: “Having looked into the circumstances, we can confirm that wreaths blew over during the recent bad weather and have now been secured. The flags had been left by children who had been taking photographs on the monument.

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“The Cenotaph, and our other war memorials, are incredibly important monuments. They should be respected by everyone and we are very proud of them and our strong links with our Armed Forces community past and present.”

The incident comes amid fears of tensions boiling over as a huge anti-genocide march has been planned to take place on Remembrance Sunday next weekend.

The demonstration is expected to bring tens of thousands of people to London, with many Conservative politicians asking for the day to go undisturbed by protests – although others have pointed out the irony of banning an armistice march on Armistice Day.

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But the campaign group Friends of Al Aqsa, along with the Palestine Solidarity Campaign, have said the demonstration route will start two hours after the minute’s silence, at 12.45pm. The route will go between Marble Arch and Battersea Park.

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak has said there is a “clear and present risk” of the Cenotaph and other war memorials getting “desecrated” during the Armistice Day march.

The ex-Scotland Yard Superintendent Nusrit Mehtab has said “the march should go ahead”, adding “the organisers have been liaising with police” and have “discussed the route”, while also saying the protest “is not close to Whitehall and is set to take place hours after the service”.

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