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Peace Cycle to Palestine

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I wrote this for my Uni paper..........


Peace Cycle to Palestine!


Three friends, three bikes and over 10, 000 miles of land to cross.

Nuff said!


In life many of us want to achieve something worthwhile before we die of old age. For some it is to run in the London marathon, others would like to climb a mountain and for my final year class an achievement would be getting out of bed for a morning lecture or beating that super-hard end of level boss on Doom 3!


However three young lads from Leicester had a plan to achieve something incredible that they will remember for years to come. Ismail Parekh, 22 who is currently studying at De Montfort University, with his friends Ferman Uddin 25 and Imran Isat 33, who both live in Leicester, were joining a group of cyclist who were planning a Peace Cycle to Palestine.


The aim of The Peace Cycle is to raise awareness of the real and often misrepresented situation in israel and Palestine; namely israel's illegal occupation of internationally recognised Palestinian land And its continual apartheid like treatment of the Palestinian people.


The group of friends embarked on a mission that was reminiscent of the strong pro-peace culture prevalent in the 1970’s at the time when America was in Vietnam. Ferman, Imran and Ismail set off as part of a 40 strong group of pro-peace cyclists, from all sorts of religions and culture, wanting to highlight the cause of peoples whose lives are currently being destroyed in israeli occupied Palestine.


Politicians and celebrities came to speak and see them off, including Palestinian General Delegate to the UK Afif Safieh, representatives of the Green Party, the Muslim Association of Britain and Jews for Justice for Palestinians. A statement of support from Neturei Karta International (Jews United Against Zionism) was read by Ismail Patel of Friends of Al Aqsa, who was also joined comedian Jeremy Hardy to cut the ribbon and officially start the ride. Ismail says,


“It felt amazing setting off from Hyde park, cycling past the Houses of Parliament and Big Ben, it is an experience I will never forget�.


As our three adventurers cycled through London, a crowd gathered to say ‘farewell’ and ‘Godspeed’ to all the cyclists. Unfortunately for Ismail his magical journey came to an abrupt end. On the way to Dover, Ismail’s bike suffered a mechanical fault that caused him to pull out of the race. So it was up to Ferman and Imran to carry the torch of peace and hope.


The duo travelled across Europe they were fascinated by the beautiful landscapes and romantic locations. As Ferman and Imran travelled on their journey they said farewell to some of the cyclists, who had to pull out, however they gladly welcomed to new cyclists who wanted a piece of this feat of human endurance.

As they travelled into each country they were greeted with smiles and treated like princes, with gifts and luxurious feasts – which was a change from their usual diet of tuna with porridge or cornflakes and water. The most memorable part of the journey was when they went through Switzerland and they saw the Swiss Alps, with snow dusted tops. Although this amazing site came with a price, first they had to cycle through the unforgiving Saint Bernard Paths! This gruelling road was an uphill struggle. Imran said,


“That road was literally vertical and it was one heck of flippin trek! As we got to the top rather than carrying on cycling, we stopped to cheer on everyone else who had to face the same ordeal�


Soon the beautiful and warm surroundings were soon to disappear for the cyclists when they entered Palestine. Palestine was a cold, dry piece of land that had its freedom stripped away. Houses were turned into rubble, roads had become pieces of dust and dirt.


Everywhere the cyclists looked there were dark, grey walls which were designed to divide the country into different parts causing family and friends to be apart from each other. People were physically being stopped from visiting their loved ones. The walls with their barbed wire and armed guards made the Berlin Wall look like a picket fence.


The only way to travel through Palestine was via certain israeli checkpoints dotted around the country. These checkpoints were systematic and emphasised the hatred and aggression the israelis had towards the Palestinians. These checkpoints caused an average journey that would normally take 10 minute by foot into a 2 hour ordeal. Ferman quoted,


“While I was at a checkpoint near Ramallah, I had to wait in the burning sun for 1hour 15 minutes. I saw hundreds of people from different ages and health waiting in this endless queue. We were herded like cattle through turn-styles interrogated by israeli armed forces. I have never felt so offended in all of my life or treated less humanly even though I am British citizen�


As the cyclists reached the heart of Palestine, they received a hero’s welcome which they fully deserved. After their many greeting and congratulations, Ferman, Imran and the other cyclists visited different hospitals and orphanages offerings donations and help, wherever they could. However one Palestinian said,


“We are grateful for what you are giving us but we don’t need your money, we don’t need your pity, all we just want is for you to see what they are doing to us with your own eyes�


After a few short days it was time for the cyclist to return home. After saying their farewells the cyclists made their way back home but rather cycling back, they grabbed the nearest plane out of there – these guys aren’t stupid you know! Even though the entire journey was a small one the memories that they had gained would last them a lifetime.

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