Quakers plan worship and protest at Farnborough International

By staff writers
July 17, 2014

Quakers in the Hampshire area are planning a Meeting for Worship at Farnborough International, which hosts an arms fair alongside “family-friendly” air displays.

While the event is best known for the Farnborough Air Show, marketed as a day out for families and children, its main purpose is a combined arms fair and civil aerospace exhibition.

The Quaker Meeting for Worship will take place on Sunday (20 July).

Most of the world's major arms companies have a presence at Farnborough, exhibiting a range of weaponry that includes missile systems, armoured vehicles and drones.

This year, Algeria, Bahrain, Iraq, Libya, Pakistan and Saudi Arabia are among the countries with poor human rights records whose governments have been invited by the UK government to attend Farnborough International.

Critics point out that the fair will include Israeli arms companies, despite the current attack on Gaza. Ukrainian and Russian arms companies will both be touting weapons.

Arms dealers at the event inlcude Rosonboronexport, the main weapons supplier to the Assad regime in Syria, alongside BAE Systems, whose armoured vehicles have been used to suppress peaceful democracy protests in Bahrain.

The Campaign Against Arms Trade (CAAT) has been leading people of varied religions and none in protesting against the event this week.

The Quakers say that everyone is welcome to attend their Meeting for Worship at 4pm near Gate B – the main pedestrian entrance – on Sunday 20 July.

“Quakers have always believed that war and the preparation for war is inconsistent with the spirit of Christ,” explained Christina, from Farnborough Friends' Meeting.

She explained, “Farnborough Air Show is a show place for military as well as civilian aircraft. It is a fitting place to pray for peace and for an end to our government’s reliance on military ways of solving the world’s problems.”

CAAT said that, “The family-friendly airshow and 'Futures Day' event allow weapons manufacturers a unique PR opportunity.”

Christina added, “As a retired teacher and a grandmother I am deeply concerned that we should make the world safe for the young and that the arms trade is not the way to do it. We must wake up to the realisation that war is not the answer. The world needs water, not weapons.”

More information about the Quaker Meeting for Worship at Farnborough International, along with travel directions, can be found at www.tinyurl.com/Quakers-AirShow.


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