Ashamed: a reflection on the #NoFaithinWar demonstration

Peacemakers newsbannerUnited Reformed Church (URC) ministers, the Revds Mark Meatcher and Melanie Smith, joined hundreds of protestors at the #NoFaithinWar anti arms fair demonstration on 3 September.

Mark and Melanie, who are Ministers of the Enfield groups of the URC, demonstrated against the opening of the Defence and Security Equipment International (DSEI) exhibition which takes place at the Excel Centre, London, between 10-13 September.

Mark reflects on the protest:

“DSEI is the showcase for many manufacturers of weapons of warfare and promotes weapon sales “by giving arms dealers the chance to meet and greet military delegations, government officials, other arms companies and a host of individual visitors.

Mark Meatcher at arms fair protest 3 sept 2019“The #NoFaithinWar protest was attended by representatives of many different Christian groups, accompanied by others from various different faiths together with atheists and agnostics.

“Although I was delighted to be able to be there supporting many others, at the end of the day I left with an overriding feeling of being ashamed.

“I was ashamed because at around 2.30 pm the police literally burst into a very peaceful and moving “time of Quaker worship, attended by approximately 300 people (including Melanie and myself) and loudly announced that they were going to clear the road and people needed to move out of the way.

“They proceeded to tell people that at 3pm they would start arresting people for obstruction of the public highway.

“This they then did, with 48 arrests being made, of people of all ages, one of whom, I found out later, had been involved in marches with Martin Luther-King Jr, another of whom was blind!

“I was ashamed because this was an act of worship that was interrupted.

“I was ashamed because they were arresting peaceful protestors and yet no-one was arresting any government members for selling weapons of warfare to Saudi Arabia, something that the British courts have held to be illegal.

police at arms fair“I was ashamed because it felt to me that the police were simply being used as tools of a system that is finance driven and not people focused. If we cared more about the people of the world we live in, than making money, then we would stop supplying arms to others.

“The protests continue during the next few days, and between 6.30pm-9pm on 9 September, the Quakers will be leading a vigil outside the ExCel centre.”

Find more about the Stop the Arms Fair activities here.

More images from the day can be found here.


Pictures one and two by the Revd Dr Kevin Snyman
Picture three: by the Revd Mark Meatcher
Published: 5 September 2019