Peaceful Protests

Muawad Mustafa Rashid

Civil Disobedience or sometimes it is called Non-violent Disobedience is a well-known system practiced within the frame of law and does not include any violence.

The main purpose of the disobedience is to register collective protests on some practices.

Indian spiritual leader, Mahatma Gandhi is the most famous for promoting civil disobedience in the thirties of the last century.

People recall the Salt March, which took place from March to April 1930 in India, was an act of civil disobedience led by Mohandas Gandhi (1869-1948) to protest British rule in India.

During the march, thousands of Indians followed Gandhi from his religious retreat near Ahmadabad to the Arabian Sea coast, a distance of some 240 miles. The march resulted in the arrest of nearly 60,000 people, including Gandhi himself. India finally was granted its independence in 1947. 

Gandhi’s civil disobedience shed light on the demands of the Indian national movement and the practice proved that non-violent disobedience can pay off.

The US was involved in civil disobedience during the struggle against the racism practiced in America.

The most significant confrontation in this regard occurred in Montgomery, when Alabama, Rosa Parks is jailed for refusing to give up her seat on a public bus to a white man, a violation of the city’s racial segregation laws.

The successful Montgomery Bus Boycott, organized by a young Baptist minister named Martin Luther King, Jr., followed Park’s historic act of civil disobedience.

According to a Montgomery city ordinance in 1955, African Americans were required to sit at the back of public buses and were also obligated to give up those seats to white riders if the front of the bus filled up.

Parks was in the first row of the black section when the white driver demanded that she give up her seat to a white man.

Parks’ refusal was spontaneous but was not merely brought on by her tired feet, as is the popular legend.

Local civil rights leaders had been planning a challenge to Montgomery’s racist bus laws for several months, and Parks had been privy to this discussion.

African American activists called for a bus boycott to be held by black citizens on Monday, December.

The first day of the bus boycott was a great success, and that night the 26-year-old Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr., told a large crowd gathered at a church, “The great glory of American democracy is the right to protest for right.” King emerged as the leader of the bus boycott and received numerous death threats from opponents of integration. At one point, his home was bombed, but he and his family escaped bodily harm.

The boycott stretched on for more than a year, and participants carpooled or walked miles to work and school when no other means were possible. As African Americans previously constituted 70 percent of the Montgomery bus ridership, the municipal transit system suffered gravely during the boycott.

On November 13, 1956, the U.S. Supreme Court struck down Alabama State and Montgomery city bus segregation laws as violating the equal protection clause of the 14th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.

On December 20, King issued the following statement: “The year-old protest against city buses is officially called off, and the Negro citizens of Montgomery are urged to return to the buses tomorrow morning on a non-segregated basis.”

The boycott ended the next day. Rosa Parks was among the first to ride the newly desegregated buses.

Martin Luther King, Jr., and his nonviolent civil rights movement had won its first great victory, when the court, after one year, issued a decision affirming the non-constitutional practice (racism) in the public buses.

For America, the most important protest practice was that against the racism led by Martin Luther King Jr. to the memorial of Abraham Lincoln in Washington on August 28, 1963, in which Martin Luther addressed the masses with his famous address (I have a dream) which encouraged all the people to fight the racism.

The incident represented a practice that is still immortal in the history of struggle against the racism.

It is high time for our government to review the recent peaceful protests positively to understand their dimensions and find out the actual reason for the civil disobedience calls by those youth groups through the social media outlets, instead of concentrating on who are those youth.

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