Fans urged to support Palestine

Scottish unions urge Celtic fans to support Palestine in Europa clash against Israel.

    Celtic played Hapoel Tel Aviv in Israel in their Group C away match in September [GALLO/GETTY]
    The Scottish Trades Union Congress (STUC) has called on supporters of football club Celtic to wave Palestinian flags at their Europa League home match against Israel's Hapoel Tel Aviv as a 'demonstration of support' for Palestine.

    Dave Moxham, the deputy secretary general of the STUC, asked Celtic fans to show their support at the game on Wednesday of a 'just and lasting peace in Israel/Palestine based on a secure Palestinian homeland living side by side with Israel'.

    The STUC supports a boycott of Israeli companies and has previously called for sanctions against Israel.

    But the Glasgow club, whose fans often wave Irish flags because of their historic ties with Ireland and the Roman Catholic community, raised concerns about demonstrations and urged supporters to avoid public demonstrations. 

    STUC statement

    The STUC issued their call on the eve of the one-year anniversary of the Gaza conflict.

    "This December marks the one year anniversary of the Israeli invasion of Gaza in which 1400 men, women and children were killed in an act described by the United Nations as 'indicating serious violations of international human rights' and 'amounting to war crimes, and possibly crimes against humanity'," said the statement.

    "Israel also continues to flout international law through its illegal occupation, through increasing settlements and building its so-called security wall which separates Palestinians, family from family and community from community."

    "When the Israel team Hapoel Tel Aviv visit Celtic Park on Wednesday night, millions around the world will be watching including those living in Israel and Palestine.

    Concerns

    Celtic, who are currently struggling in the Europa League, expressed concerns by the call for demonstrations and said their stadium was "no place for a political demonstration".

    "Celtic FC welcomes Hapoel Tel-Aviv and their supporters to Celtic Park," said the club.

    "Celtic Football Club believes in football as a powerful medium for social integration. Celtic has always been a club for all people, regardless of gender, age, religion, race, politics or ability. We therefore believe Celtic Park is no place for a political demonstration.

    "The Club recognises the influence of football to bring communities together. In this regard, we recognise the work of Hapoel Tel-Aviv for their efforts within their own communities to act as a catalyst for positive change."

    Most of Celtic's supporters come from Glasgow's large Catholic community.

    The city's other big club, Rangers, has traditionally drawn its support from Protestants and games between the two sides have often been the scene of sectarian rivalry mirroring the struggles between the communities in Northern Ireland.

    SOURCE: Al Jazeera and agencies


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