CFI’s Honorary President, Lord Polak CBE has written to Home Secretary Amber Rudd to express concern at the public display of Hezbollah flags in Central London yesterday, as part of the annual al-Quds Day Rally.
Lord Polak asserted that the Hezbollah flags “cause great distress to many in the UK”, and called on the Metropolitan Police to charge those found in “direct contravention” of Section 13 of the Terrorism Act (2000).
The UK currently proscribes Hezbollah’s so-called ‘military wing’, while the United States, Canada, the Netherlands, the Arab League, the Gulf Cooperation Council, and Israel proscribe the terrorist organisation in its entirety.
In his letter, Lord Polak asks: “In the wake of several deadly terror attacks against civilians in this country, is it not time that the UK demonstrates its commitment to combatting extremism by joining our important allies in proscribing the terror group in its entirety?”
At the anti-Israel rally yesterday, around 1,000 people marched through central London, with many men, women and children waving Hezbollah flags in full view of Metropolitan Police officers.
Many of the flags featured small ‘disclaimers’ that they were only supporting Hezbollah’s ‘political wing’, though Hezbollah has long insisted that its military and non-military activities are indivisible.
The Islamic Human Rights Commission, which organises the march, provided guidance on its website for participants, advising that they were “welcome to bring flags that show solidarity with the Palestinian cause”, stating that while flags of illegal organisations are not allowed, demonstrators may bring a “Hezbollah flag to show support for the political wing of Hezbollah” as the political wing of the Lebanese-based terror group is “not a proscribed organisation”.
A speaker at the event reportedly blamed the Grenfell fire tragedy on “the Zionist supporters of the Tory Party”, while attendees called for the destruction of Israel and waved slogans including one stating “we are all Hezbollah”.
Hundreds of pro-Israel supporters attended a counter-demonstration organised by the Zionist Federation, which was backed by the Board of Deputies and Jewish Leadership Council.
CFI Officer Matthew Offord has also written to the Home Secretary, calling on the Government to impel the Metropolitan Police to take criminal action against identified individuals waving Hezbollah flags.
The MP for Hendon asked that the Government “proscribe the political wing of Hezbollah, in addition to the military wing, to compel the Metropolitan Police to take action against individuals displaying these terrorist symbols”.
Dr Offord has previously condemned the Metropolitan Police’s “lack of action” over the display of flags of proscribed terror groups. In a letter to the Assistant Commissioner last year, Dr Offord said that “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”.
In October 2015, following the Hendon MP’s continued efforts, two Hezbollah flag-waving protesters were arrested after demonstrating outside Downing Street against Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s visit to the UK.