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Thousands turn out for flag raising

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After a day of confusion the Palestinian flag was raised at Preston Town Hall.

Council chiefs had agreed to fly the flag as a mark of solidarity with the people of Gaza – they then said an hour before it was due to be raised that the decision had been scrapped and they would lower the Union Flag instead.

Then following a meeting with campaign group Children of the Ghetto, who initially requested the flag be raised, it was – in front of around 2,000 people outside Preston Town Hall.

The initial decision had sparked a row online with people questioning why the council was getting involved. After the flag was raised a peaceful demonstration was held with people chanting and holding placards.

However, there was some minor unrest earlier on and the police had to move in.

Former Preston Councillor Michael Lavalette, said: “It’s been a strange day. It was definitely going to happen then Preston City Council came under huge pressure, they decided they weren’t going to put the flag up.

“We had a long and heated argument and meeting with them and in the end they agreed to fly the flag.

“It’s the start of a weekend of solidarity.”

Mumira Patel, 32, from Preston, was one of the many people in the crowd.

She said: “It’s a fantastic event, we want to thank Preston Council. It’s very symbolic and historical. It’s all about humanitarianism. It isn’t about any particular religion, it’s about the treatment of decent civilians.

“People of all cultures and backgrounds and the same backgrounds uniting.

“We just want to say a really big thank you to the council.”

When the council announced it wouldn’t be flying the flag, Coun Rankin said: “We have listened to and reflected the views expressed to us about flying the Palestinian flag in Preston.

“I have been truly touched by the many views that have been expressed from all sides.

“It is clear this is a very emotive issue and we have had literally hundreds of people from Preston and indeed from around the world contact us about it.”

However nobody from the council was available for comment at the time the decision was reversed and the flag was raised.

Throughout the day there were mixed views posted on lep.co.uk

Prestonvoice32 said: “Who do PCC think they are making this decision on behalf of their residents.”

And Cumbrianboy said: “Why is Preston Council taking sides in this conflict?”

Freepalestine posted: “Well done Preston Council you have given the message that you are against injustice and oppression of innocent civilians.”

 

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