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Swedish #WalkToPalestine activist: ‘The biggest challenge is solitude’

April 23, 2018 at 4:29 pm

Swedish activist Benjamin Ladraa (R) and Palestinian travel blogger Motasem Ilawi [Benjamin Ladraa/Facebook]

Swedish activist Benjamin Ladraa will be arriving in Ankara this week after having spent time in Istanbul with supporters of his #WalkToPalestine campaign.

Ladraa, who has travelled over 3,000 kilometres through Europe, was joined by Palestinian travel blogger Motasem Ilawi as he walked through Turkey towards the city of Istanbul.

“It’s super nice with company on the road. The biggest challenge I’m facing is the solitude so I really appreciate it when someone takes the time to join up for a while,” Ladraa said.

In Istanbul, Ladraa and Ilawi spent time with various pro-Palestinian activists and delivered a number of interviews to major news outlets on the #WalkToPalestine campaign.

The 24 year-old has also delivered several lectures to raise awareness of the Palestinian cause, including speaking at Bogazici University, Marmara University and Sehir University, three of Istanbul’s most prestigious institutions.

“It was great meeting the students of the Bogazici University yesterday. I can really feel the solidarity for the Palestinian people from everyone I meet in Turkey,” Ladraa wrote on Facebook.

Swedish activist Benjamin Ladraa speaks at the Marmara University [Benjamin Ladraa/Facebook]

Read: #WalkToPalestine activist arrives in Turkey

Ladraa was joined by his family in Istanbul, and was invited to the Palestinian consulate to meet with officials and discuss ways in which to raise further awareness of the occupation during his trip.

Swedish activist Benjamin Ladraa, joined by his family in Istanbul, was invited to the Palestinian consulate to meet with officials [Benjamin Ladraa/Facebook]

The Swedish activist has also been inviting other supporters of Palestine to join him in public walks, particularly in light of the ongoing “Great March of Return” and the protests taking place on the Gaza border. On his last day in Istanbul, Ladraa gained special permission to walk with fellow activists across the city’s 15 July Martyrs Bridge, formerly known as the Bosphorus Bridge, whilst waving Palestinian flags and donning keffiyehs.

During his travels, Ladraa has often been stopped by police after arousing suspicions from locals, but he was pleasantly surprised when a Turkish police officer recently called him over to express his support for his trip.

“There was an officer on the road waving to me so I figured he wanted the usual but he actually wanted to offer me lunch! Then one of the officers said he had written a prayer for Palestine and wanted me to deliver it to the Palestinian people so I have it with me now. This was quite a different experience then I normally have with police,” he said in a social media post detailing the experience.

Swedish activist Benjamin Ladraa takes a photo with Turkish policemen [Benjamin Ladraa/Facebook]

Ladraa is 600 kilometres away from his destination. From Ankara, he is looking to travel by boat to Cyprus and on to Egypt from where he will cross into Jordan. He then hopes to be able to travel to Jerusalem, but is prepared for the possibility that Israel will deny him entry on the basis of his activism.

The Swedish musician chose to make the journey to mark the centenary of the Balfour Declaration which provided international legitimacy for the Zionist project which led to the subsequent creation of the state of Israel and the displacement of nearly one million Palestinians in 1948.

Read: Swedish #WalkToPalestine activist: Israel’s occupation is apartheid