Around two thousand people from at least eleven national communities participated in Arab Communities Day in London last Saturday. The event was organised by the Palestinian Forum in Britain under the banner of "Our Heart is in Jerusalem".
Traditional prose recitals, folk dances and programmes for children hosted by the Aqsa for Kids project, founded by Sarah El-Awaisi, kept the audience entertained. Food stalls offered cuisine from Morocco, Palestine and Egypt. Participants represented Jordan, Lebanon, Syria, Iraq, Egypt, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Tunisia, Libya, Morocco, Yemen and Palestine.
The chair of the Palestinian Forum in Britain, Zaher Birawi, explained the unifying goals of the day. "We all believe that Jerusalem is the compass of all our people, our loved ones, and our honour from our Arab and Muslim people," said Birawi, expressing his hope that such an event will strengthen international bonds and connect the younger Palestinian and Arab generations to their Arab identity and heritage. "We seek, through heritage and non-political activities, to overcome Arab political differences and converge on the inherent identity of the Arab world with its rich, cultural diversity."
Participants and artists alike generated an enthusiastic atmosphere, not least when the traditional dabke performers took to the stage. Yemeni songs by Abdel Qader Qawza inspired the audience, as did his recitation of moving poems dedicated to Jerusalem.
The Palestinian Forum in Britain has organised Arab Communities Day annually since 2014, apart from last year when Covid restrictions meant that the event could not be held.