on July 7, 2008
Hyde Park is most famous for Speakers' Corner, where every Sunday you can find citizens speaking publicly to crowds on a variety of topics. It is the only place in London where demonstrators are allowed to gather without a permit, and is the main protest site in the city. (The giant million-man-strong anti-Iraq War protest took place here in 2003.) When we came to London last year, we hadn't had the chance to visit Speakers' Corner on a Sunday, so this was going to be a first for us. The green spaces of Hyde Park looked like any other London park would on a Sunday: dotted with picnickers and residents sunning themselves on the grass. But that little concrete corner of Hyde Park was what made it unlike any other park in the city. There, dozens of residents and tourists milled about, gathered around a dozen or so men and women standing on boxes or step ladders speaking to whomever wished to listen. The two hottest topics of the day were religion and the Iraq war. There were four or five Christian evangelizers talking about the second coming and giving out Bibles, another person was talking about Islam, and yet another was doing Catholic apologetics. There were a few people talking about race and ethnic issues of various minority groups, and there was a heated debate between one female speaker and the people who had gathered around her, about immigration. There were a few who appeared to be there in jest; one man was standing on a stepladder offering free hugs, and another man had a list of nine topics written on a board, and he was inviting passers-by to choose the topic they wanted him to speak about.It was exciting and extremely interesting. Mike and I got into a discussion with one old man about climate change. We took a lot of pictures, listened to a few of the speakers, and marveled about how eloquent all of these people were.Visiting Hyde Park definitely one of the more memorable things we did in London!
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