The law has been tightened to grant police stronger powers to stop the display of proscribed organisation’s flags prior to the annual “Al Quds Day” parade, which has traditionally been a pro-Hizballah event at which numerous supporters of the genocidal antisemitic terrorist organisation marched through London waving the organisation’s flag, wearing clothing emblazoned with its emblem, and carrying placards stating “We are all Hizballah”.
In February this year, Hizballah was completely proscribed by the Home Secretary, Sajid Javid, with the support of the Foreign Secretary, Jeremy Hunt. This followed a gruelling effort over several years by Campaign Against Antisemitism and our allies.
Until then, the British Government had distinguished between Hizballah’s “military wing” and “political wing”, even though Hizballah mocked the Government and said that no such distinction exists.
The loophole enabled brazen shows of support for Hizballah, including the pro-Hizballah “Al Quds Day” parade which is organised by a registered charity. Hizballah supporters marched through the heart of London, heard from antisemitic speakers and even draped babies in Hizballah flags.
In addition to the total proscription of Hizballah, the law has now been changed to enable police officers to take much firmer action.
The Counter-Terrorism and Border Security Act 2019 has changed the Terrorism Act 2000’s provision against wearing the uniform of banned terrorist organisations, which also included waving terrorist flags.
Under section 13 of the Terrorism Act, “A person in a public place commits an offence if he wears an item of clothing — or wears, carries or displays an article [including a flag] — in such a way or in such circumstances as to arouse reasonable suspicion that he is a member or supporter of a proscribed organisation.”
The law has now been amended, to allow police officers to seize flags or other articles as evidence, stating: “A constable may seize an item of clothing or any other article if the constable reasonably suspects that it is evidence in relation to an offence under subsection (1), and is satisfied that it is necessary to seize it in order to prevent the evidence being concealed, lost, altered or destroyed.” The law further states that officers may require individuals to remove any terrorist-branded clothing, with certain exceptions, such as underwear.
Additionally, the law has been changed to make it an offence to publish images or videos of clothing or other articles that would “arouse reasonable suspicion that the person is a member or supporter of a proscribed organisation”.
These amendments will ensure that Hizballah supporters will no longer be able to display the Hizballah flag and intimidate British Jews with impunity as they have done for years at successive “Al Quds Day” parades.
This year’s parade is scheduled for 2nd June in central London and Campaign Against Antisemitism, along with other Jewish community organisations, have been in discussion with the Metropolitan Police Service to ensure that any shows of support for Hizballah are firmly punished.