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Weak turnout at anti-Blair demonstration

Johanessburg - It’s a human rights issue, not a Muslim issue. This was the point that protesters gathered around Alice Lane in Sandton on Thursday wanted to bring across.

The peaceful protest was organised by Muslim organisation Al Jama-ah and supported by Cosatu, the SA Municipal Workers Union (Samwu) and the Young Communist League (YCL).

People walk past a mural in Sandton that advertises the Discovery Invest Leadership Summit with the faces of former British prime minister Tony Blair and Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu. Tutu pulled out of the summit due to Blair's attendance. Credit: Ihsaan Haffejee

“As Muslims, we stand against social injustice, and the fact that there was a small turnout is very tragic,” said one demonstrator.

About 60 protesters were blocked off from the Sandton Convention Centre, where the Discovery Invest Leadership Summit was taking place.

YCL national secretary Buti Manamela said he supported the demonstration. “We are here to support the fact that many have opened a case of murder against [former British prime minister] Tony Blair,” he said.

Manamela said both Blair and former US president George W Bush had blood on their hands from the many war crimes they had committed. He added that part of Discovery’s agenda was to continue with the “genocide” that medical aids were causing.

“Arrest Tony Blair now. Why must he receive VIP treatment when the Iraqis have not received such?” asked Manamela.

Samwu’s Stephen Faulkner said he could not understand why Blair was paid such an enormous amount of money for a leadership summit as a failed leader.

“The struggle against the Blairs of this world does not end here,” he said.

Faulkner said anyone who had a Discovery product should consider discontinuing with it.

He said the money Discovery was making from South Africans was being used to fund people like Blair. Faulkner claimed Blair earned between R100 000 and R350 000 for each minute he spoke at the summit.

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