Palestine commotion overshadows climate rally, goes global

Greta Thunberg attempts to hold onto the microphone. Photo: Robin Utrecht ANP

The man who climbed on stage and interrupted activist Greta Thunberg during Sunday’s climate march in Amsterdam has made media headlines around the world, the AD reported on Monday.

His act, and the commotion that led up to it, have overshadowed the impact of the Netherlands’ biggest ever pro-climate rally, some commentators say. According to the organisers, 85,000 people attended the march which took place 10 days before the general election.

The man, a former candidate in the waterboard elections for Water Natuurlijk, took to the stage to protest that the event had been politicised by both Thunberg and a pro-Palestine activist. Thunberg had allowed a pro-Palestine activist to continue her speech which the organisers had muted after she said “from the river to the sea, Palestine will be free”. 

Thunberg handed the microphone back to the woman, named by the Parool as Sarah, saying there can be “no climate justice without international solidarity, much to the anger of parts of the crowd. 

The man, who has not been named, was removed from the stage and, according to Water Natuurlijk leader Patricia de Cocq, was shocked by the reaction. 

“He was aware that other people were also concerned and at a certain point he felt he should do something about it,” De Cocq said. He now realizes he should not have done it in this way.” 

Photo: Niels van der Pas

The main organisers of the demonstration have reportedly said they regret the commotion surrounding the speeches. 

However, Extinction Rebellion NL issued a statement saying “there is a lot to learn within the climate movement about the relationship between genocide, ecocide and the role of world powers and polluters.”  

The climate group has come under fire from some supporters for the way it has widened its remit and will now, for example, join the anti-Zwarte Piet protests from next weekend.

Professor Rien van IJzendoorn, who took part in several XR blockades on the A12 motorway, told Trouw that the organisation had built up credit with many Dutch people with its non-violent actions against fossil subsidies. 

Splinter group

“The fact that XR argues that ‘everything is connected to everything else’ means the ‘objectives are being diluted,” Van IJzendoorn said. “XR threatens to shrink into yet another powerless splinter group projecting its own views onto complex reality.”

A spokesman told Dutch News earlier “We are for life everywhere, and we speak up when lives are in danger, whether it’s the capitalist system destroying the environment or committing genocide. It’s the same system, run by a small group of rich, powerful people. We are for justice for humans, animals and planet. It’s our moral obligation to speak out against oppression, or else we stand with the oppressors.”

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