The labelling of peace protests as ‘extremist’ by members of the UK government has been derided as divisive at a rally of tens of thousands of people in central London.

Saturday’s pro-Palestine march, the latest in what has attracted up to 300,000 protesters at a time, came off the back of fresh claims the United Kingdom risks reaching boiling point if demonstrations are continuously framed as antisemitic and dangerous.

Addressing a large crowd assembled outside the United States embassy in Nine Elms, in south-west London, British Palestinian activist Leanne Mohammad hit back at those claiming the pro-Palestine protests encourage extremism.

“We are people that stand for the children dying and we want to push for change,” she said. “If that’s what an extremist is, then I’m proud to be an extremist seeking change.”

Last week Prime Minister Rishi Sunak claimed, without offering any evidence, the marches were descending “into intimidation, threats, and planned acts of violence”. His comments followed former home secretary Suella Braverman describing the demonstrations as “hate marches” in remarks that contributed to her being sacked in November.

Sunak’s comments after last week’s resounding byelection victory by George Galloway, who was campaigning on the issue of Gaza, were further fuelled with the government’s commissioner for counter-terrorism, Robin Simcox, writing in the Daily Telegraph on Friday that London had been “permitted to be turned into a no-go zone for Jews every weekend”.

Dame Sara Khan, a UK government adviser on social cohesion, said the recent portrayal of pro-Palestine protests as extremist was “outrageous” and “dangerous”.

She added the claims would only exacerbate the existing divide in the UK on whether the government should do more to stop the Gaza conflict.

Organised by Stop the War and The Palestine Solidarity Campaign, up to 30,000 members of the public joined the march through the streets of London to show solidarity with Palestine and call for an immediate ceasefire.

Demonstrators met at Hyde Park before walking along Grosvenor Place and crossing the Thames, making their way over Vauxhall Bridge towards the United States Embassy.

The national demonstration played host to an all-woman line-up of female speakers to mark International Women’s Day the day before, who all spoke on the importance of standing behind Palestinian mothers and young girls.


About 30,000 people rallied in London on Saturday to protest the war in Gaza. Photo: Hugo Lumb.

British Labour Minister, Beth Winter, told the crowd: “[The] sisterhood is not alive if we do not stand in solidarity with the women in Palestine.”

“We must end the creation of UK weapons for the Gaza conflict and demand from the government an immediate ceasefire.”

Mohammad attacked the “inadequate response” from leaders in the UK and US.

“President Biden’s move to build a port to help with giving aid in Gaza will not be effective if America continues to give weapons to Israel,” she added.

“The UK’s policy of remaining silent on the matter is still complicit to the conflict and our government is continuously enabling innocent people to lose their lives.”

This weekend’s protest was the 10th National March for Palestine since the Israeli offensive was launched after the October 7 Hamas attack which killed 1,200 people in Israel.

Over the following months, Israeli strikes have killed more than 31,000 Palestinians in Gaza, with two-thirds of them women and children.

The war and Israel’s blockade of food and water into Gaza since the start of the conflict has created a growing humanitarian crisis and the UN has warned famine in Gaza is ‘almost inevitable,’ with large portions of the population starving and claims some children have already died from malnutrition.

Main image by Hugo Lumb.