Celtic supporters fly 'Jerusalem is Palestine' banner

Celtic fans hold up Palestine flags during the Champions League match against Hapoel Be'er Sheva. (Reuters)

Celtic fans hold up Palestine flags during the Champions League match against Hapoel Be'er Sheva. (Reuters)

It was more than just football for fans of Scottish football club Celtic over the weekend. At a match inside the Easter Stadium in Edinburgh, a row of supporters had a message for US President Donald Trump: “Jerusalem is Palestine”.

The declaration was written in green letters on a white banner, which spectators held up inside the stadium stands. On a second cloth, the fans were equally blunt on their feelings about Trump.

“Fuck Trump,” read another banner.

Last week, Trump recognised Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.
The city has long been regarded as somewhat of a no-man’s land. Israelis claim Jerusalem is their capital, while Palestinians have said the city has always belonged to them. Internationally, Jerusalem is viewed as its own sovereign land, with no country willing to back Israel’s or Palestine’s claim to the territory.

The religious symbolism of the city for all three Abrahamic religions and the implications of declaring it either Israeli or Palestinian led the United Nations to adopt a plan for Jerusalem to be under the administration of UN countries.

Since Trump proclaimed the city to be Israel’s capital, protests have broken out in Palestine and other parts of the world

For Celtic supporters, however, protests in solidarity with Palestinians are nothing new in their camp. Just last year, fans flew Palestinian flags high during a Champion’s League match against Israel’s Hapoel Beer Sheva FC team at Celtic Park. The club was fined by Uefa for allowing their supporters to protest. Fans started a group called Celtic Fans for Palestine, which released a statement before the match.

“When someone is representing Israeli state institutions, it is sadly never merely a game. Football, Uefa and Celtic FC are being used to whitewash Israel’s true nature and give this rogue state an air of normality and acceptance it should not and cannot enjoy until its impunity ends and it is answerable to international law and faces sanctions for the countless UN resolutions it had breached,” the group said.

Supporters decked their rafters in the green, red and white colours of the Palestinian flag despite a Uefa ban on protests against Israel.

The club was previously fined $20 750 by Uefa for failing to stop fans from protesting against Israel at a game against Iceland’s KR Reykjavikin 2014. The protest was reportedly to demand an end to Israel’s military occupation of Gaza.

While pro-Israelis have been bolstered by Trump’s claims on Jerusalem, many have criticised the US president for making a proclamation that is not in line with UN recognition of Jerusalem

Ra'eesa Pather

Ra'eesa Pather

Ra’eesa Pather is a general news journalist with the Mail & Guardian’s online team. She cut her teeth at The Daily Vox in Cape Town before moving to Johannesburg and joining the M&G. She's written about memory, race and gender in columns and features, and has dabbled in photography. Read more from Ra'eesa Pather

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