Earlier this month in London, a number of demonstrators at an Al-Quds Day march waved Hezbollah flags near the US Embassy in Grosvenor Square. At the time, police did not act to prevent the display of Hezbollah flags, whose military wing is defined as a terrorist group by the UK Government, despite concerns being raised by Dr Matthew Offord, MP for Hendon.
Today, Mayor of London Sadiq Khan has announced that a police investigation into the presence of the flags is ongoing, after being questioned about the repeated flag waving by Conservative London Assembly member Kemi Badenoch.
Kemi Badenoch said: “The fact that Hezbollah flags were seen to be flown at a rally in London without police intervention is truly shocking. Flying the Hezbollah flag is illegal, they are a terrorist organisation that promotes anti-Semitism, and the police should use their powers to stop this message of hate”.
She asserted: “The Mayor has promised a ‘zero tolerance approach to anti-Semitism’, and I will be urging him to take these flags off London’s streets”.
London Mayor, Sadiq Khan, confirmed that a police investigation is ongoing and that the police “know how seriously I take this issue”.
He said that he understood “the concerns of the Jewish community, and the distress these flags cause many Londoners”, and that he would “continue to work closely with the Commissioner to make sure reports of this kind are taken very seriously”.
Dr Offord, an Officer of CFI, wrote to the Assistant Commissioner at the Metropolitan Police to raise his concerns over reports that Hezbollah flags would be allowed to fly at the Al-Quds day rally.
In his letter, Dr Offord said: “I am concerned to learn of the forthcoming Al-Quds Day rally, to be held in London. The display of Hezbollah, Hamas and Daesh flags causes great distress to many of my constituents and the population as a whole and, in my opinion, is contrary to the Terrorism Act. I will certainly be raising this again with the Metropolitan Police and I hope for a positive response”.
Dr Offord first raised this issue with the Metropolitan Police in September 2015, after witnessing the flag of the proscribed terrorist organisation being flown at a counter-demonstration over the visit of Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu to Downing Street.
A counter-demonstration of around 500 pro-Israel activists called for “Peace not Hate” as the Al-Quds Day marchers gathered outside the US Embassy on 3rd July.