Christian Aid forced to remove exhibition from agricultural show
Christian Aid has expressed its dismay that an exhibition showing the difficulties of life for Palestinian farmers had to be removed from the Royal Lancashire Show because of a sustained campaign against it.
The exhibition, Peace Under Siege, was part of Christian Aidís annual stall at the agricultural show, and was accompanied by a Palestinian garden, which was allowed to remain. Previous years exhibits have included both a Zambian garden, and produce from the Commonwealth.
Photographs and stories from men and women living in the West Bank show how the Israeli occupation negatively affects the growing of food, medical care and education.
However, despite thousands of people having seen the exhibition elsewhere, Christian Aid and the Chairman of the Royal Lancashire Show, Rennie Pinder, received a number of protests.
These began with a woman who phoned Christian Aid, claiming to be from a Zionist group based in the North West, after seeing a report about the show.
This was followed by other complaints from people who assumed the exhibition was antióIsraeli or too political. Support for Christian Aid came from, among others, the United Reformed Church Moderator Peter Brain.
The police became involved after one threatening email suggested that there would be demonstrations at the show if the exhibition were not removed.
After a specific demand from the Royal Lancashire Show organisers, Christian Aid removed Peace Under Siege from their stall early on Wednesday morning ñ two days before the Show was due to end.
Ben Humphries, North West coordinator for Christian Aid, said: "We are very disappointed that our opportunity to show the experiences of Palestinian farmers has been taken from us. Christian Aid's support for the work of these farmers is obviously not affected in any way by this action, and we shall certainly continue our work in educating people across Lancashire about their plight."
Sue Turrell, Head of Christian Aidís Middle East team said: ìThis exhibition has already been seen by thousands of people around the country. To suggest that this is anti-Israeli in any way is ridiculous. Peace under Siege highlights the conditions of daily life in the Occupied Palestinian Territories, where the humanitarian situation has been deteriorating for some time."
"As a Christian organisation, itís our duty to speak up for the poor and to highlight the causes of poverty, and injustices, and this is exactly what our exhibition does. We are saddened that the Royal Lancashire Show authorities saw fit to bow under this pressure."
"We are unequivocal in our support for the security of the state of Israel and the rights of all Israeli people to live safely and securely. We believe Palestinians should be afforded the same rights.î