On Sunday, the annual Al Quds Day rally took place in London without the usual display of Hezbollah flags.
In a statement read out at the Zionist Federation’s counter-demonstration attended by 150 people including CFI Officer Dr Matthew Offord MP (pictured) and Conservative GLA candidate for Barnet and Camden Roberto Weeden-Sanz, Home Secretary Sajid Javid said that it is “now a criminal offence to display support for Hezbollah”.
The Home Secretary underlined: “All communities and leaders should be totally united in condemning any hint of antisemitism at this year’s march. And we must have zero tolerance towards any support for terrorism on the streets of Britain”.
He added: “This year I placed a proscription order in parliament to ban Hezbollah in its entirety. While this was passed, it was unfortunately the first time ever that the main opposition party refused to support the banning of a terrorist organisation. It is now a criminal offence to display support for Hezbollah. Enforcing this operationally is a matter for the police but they have my full support in doing so”.
Al Quds Day, named for the Arabic word for Jerusalem, is an anti-Israel day of protest, first initiated by Iran’s Ayatollah Khomeini in 1979. The London branch of the rally is organised by the Islamic Human Rights Commission.
Fewer people attended the rally than in previous years, with estimates showing only 700 to 800 were involved in the march, in comparison to over 1000 last year.
The Home Secretary announced in February that the UK Government would be proscribing Hezbollah in its entirety. Previously, only Hezbollah’s military wing was banned in the UK, allowing protesters to wave the Hezbollah flag as long as the flags featured a small ‘disclaimer’ that they were only supporting Hezbollah’s political wing.
The Islamic Human Rights Commission (IHRC) had sent guidance to attendees ahead of the march advising them against bringing flags of proscribed groups.
Dr Offord, the Conservative MP for Hendon, said: “This is a celebration for all of us who have campaigned for the proscription of Hezbollah. Al Quds Day is a barrier against peace in the Middle East. We all want a two state solution, what we don’t want is Hamas terrorism against Israel and Iranian backed terror”.
Dr Offord was joined at the counter demonstration by Greater London Assembly candidate for Barnet & Camden, Roberto Weeden-Sanz, who called “on the Mayor to ban this hate fest and show we stand with our Jewish community. We must never tolerate the glorification of terror”.