Campaign Against Antisemitism

CAA lawyers challenge police refusal to act over Hizballah supporters’ planned show of strength in central London this Sunday

Supporters of genocidal antisemitic terrorist group Hizballah are set to mount a show of strength through London’s main shopping streets on Sunday as part of a procession which police expect to number 1,000 people. Campaign Against Antisemitism has met with the Metropolitan Police Service, but we were told that the march will go ahead and those flying Hizballah flags will be protected by police officers.

The flag of Hizballah distinctively bears the words “Party of Allah” in Arabic, along with a dagger and a raised fist clenching an assault rifle. Last year, marchers draped themselves and their children in the Hizballah flag and also carried professionally-made placards declaring: “We are all Hizballah”. Hizballah is a terrorist organisation which advocates the annihilation of Jews worldwide. It has targeted Jews for murder around the globe from Bangkok to Buenos Aires to Burgas. It has wrought acts of barbaric murder all over the world over the course of decades, leaving a death toll in the thousands through aeroplane hijackings to war crimes in Syria to suicide bombings to launching missiles into towns.

Yet as Britain mourns those so recently slaughtered in terrorist attacks in London and Manchester, instead of confronting the pro-Hizballah marchers, the Metropolitan Police Service is proposing to close parts of Regent Street, Oxford Street, Bond Street and Grosvenor Square, bringing central London to a halt so that Hizballah-supporters may march through the heart of the capital.

Marchers will be addressed by figures including Baroness Tonge, who was suspended by the Liberal Democrats and later resigned amidst accusations of antisemitism, and Mick Napier, chair of the Scottish Palestine Solidarity Campaign who was convicted of aggravated trespass over allegations of intimidating bank staff at a demonstration against investment by Barclays Bank in an Israeli company.

The procession is mostly the work of a registered charity known as “Islamic Human Rights Commission”, which has issued guidance to participants in the procession telling them that “you can bring a Hizballah flag to show support for the political wing of Hizballah”. It is hard to see how organising a procession in which support for Hizballah is permitted can be considered to be a charitable activity. Despite receiving a complaint from us about last year’s procession, the Charity Commission has still yet to open a statutory inquiry into Islamic Human Rights Commission which is the only way it can invoke the counter-extremism powers it requested and received from Parliament.

Whilst the British government has proscribed the “military wing” of Hizballah under the Terrorism Act 2000, the “political wing” is not proscribed, something that even Hizballah finds ridiculous. In October 2012, Hizballah Deputy Secretary-General, Naim Qassem, said: “We don’t have a military wing and a political one; we don’t have Hizballah on one hand and the resistance party on the other…Every element of Hizballah, from commanders to members as well as our various capabilities, are in the service of the resistance, and we have nothing but the resistance as a priority.” Hizballah’s Secretary-General, Hassan Nasrallah, who is the leader of any fictitious “wing” of Hizballah that the government may wish to imagine, said: “If Jews all gather in Israel, it will save us the trouble of going after them worldwide.”

Section 13 of the Terrorism Act is clear that “A person in a public place commits an offence if he wears an item of clothing, or wears, carries or displays an article, in such a way or in such circumstances as to arouse reasonable suspicion that he is a member or supporter of a proscribed organisation”. Ignoring the broad scope of the legislation, which is intended precisely to stop public displays of support for terrorists, the Metropolitan Police Service interprets the law such that if someone carries a Hizballah flag, police officers should presume that the person is supporting Hizballah’s political activity and not any of Hizballah’s terrorist atrocities. In doing so, the Metropolitan Police Service is effectively deciding to tolerate the display of a flag of a proscribed terrorist organisation. Police forces have no power to decide not to enforce certain offences. If marchers choose to wave a flag that is shared with a proscribed organisation, then they assume the risk that they will “arouse reasonable suspicion that [they are a] supporter of a proscribed organisation”, which is a criminal offence.

Therefore, when Campaign Against Antisemitism met the Metropolitan Police Service at a meeting facilitated by Sophie Linden, the Deputy Mayor for Policing and Crime, we asked the police to use their powers under section 12 of the Public Order Act 1986 to impose a condition on the procession simply so that marchers are in no doubt that they cannot show the emblem of Hizballah.

The Metropolitan Police Service refused our request. Our able pro bono legal counsel has now submitted representations to the Metropolitan Police Service.

Essentially, Hizballah supporters will be able to brazenly parade through the major streets of our capital unless one of the following happens:

  1. The Metropolitan Police Service overturns its perverse interpretation of the Terrorism Act 2000 and imposes a condition on the procession under the Public Order Act 1986 so that support for Hizballah cannot be shown;
  2. The Charity Commission asks Islamic Human Rights Council to instruct its stewards not to permit participation in the procession by anybody showing support for Hizballah; or
  3. The Home Secretary proscribes Hizballah in its entirety under the Terrorism Act 2000.

Campaign Against Antisemitism has made representations to the Metropolitan Police Service, the Charity Commission and the Home Office.

On Sunday, our Demonstration and Event Monitoring Unit will attend the procession to gather evidence, which will be reviewed by our Crime Unit and Regulatory Enforcement Unit. If you are free from 14:00 in central London on Sunday and would like to help, please e-mail urgently. Alternatively, if you cannot help us this Sunday but would like to help us long-term, please volunteer or donate.

Gideon Falter, Chairman of Campaign Against Antisemitism said: “Hizballah is clear that it seeks the genocide of Jews worldwide, committing terrorist atrocities from Bangkok to Buenos Aires to Burgas. As Britain mourns those we have so recently lost to Islamist terrorism, the Metropolitan Police Service and Charity Commission intend to permit Hizballah supporters to mount a show of force through the heart of London. This is the reality of the supposed crackdown on extremism and terrorism.”

Finally, we would like to note that despite various calls from within the Jewish community for the Mayor of London to take action against this procession, he has no statutory power to do so and criticism of him for failing to exercise a power he does not possess is misplaced. Both the Mayor and the Deputy Mayor for Policing and Crime have been very helpful in facilitating contact with the right people within the Metropolitan Police Service, and we are grateful to them for their efforts. We also wish to thank Andrew Dismore, Member of the London Assembly for Barnet and Camden, who has been extremely supportive of our efforts.