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Pax Christi to lead protests at London’s weapons fair

An international Catholic peace movement, together with other faith groups, is preparing to demonstrate against Europe’s largest arms fair.

In advance of the Defence and Security Equipment International (DSEI) arms fair, which is set to take place in London next month, members of Pax Christi will join people from other faith communities in declaring their objection to the weapons trade.

As arms companies begin setting up their merchandise at the fair, diverse faith groups will gather at the ExCel Centre, London, on Tuesday 3rd September to declare with a united voice that they have ‘No Faith in War’.

The fair will take place at the Excel Centre, East London, between 10th and 13th September and peace groups have planned a number of demonstrations against the event.

Pax Christi said the arms trade represents business interests being given greater status than the lives of human beings. In a statement it said: ‘Our government has continued to support the sale of weapons for profit despite the certain knowledge that these weapons will be used, for example, by the Saudi Arabian government to kill Yemeni civilians. This structure of violence is challenged by people of faith who do not accept that violent means truly resolve conflicts.’

Pax Christi members will hold a procession using an adapted Stations of the Cross liturgy as part of their protest.

A woman who attended her first No Faith in War day last time commented, “I felt apprehensive. I wasn’t sure what to expect. But everyone was so welcoming. The atmosphere of being with like-minded people who want peace was really wonderful.”

The UK government invites official delegations to attend DSEI. While the list will not be published until closer to the time, in 2017, 56 official delegations were invited, including representatives of Saudi Arabia, Algeria, Egypt, Bahrain, Turkey, UAE and Colombia. Despite a recent ban in arms sales to Saudi Arabia, the country has been invited to DSEI 2019.

Public polling in 2017 found that 76 per cent of the UK opposes arms exports to human rights abusing regimes.

Picture: Demonstrators pictured outside the 2017 event at the ExCel, London. (Peter Marshall/Zuma Press/PA).