An anti-Israeli protest in the heart of London has hosted controversial speakers including Chris Williamson, Lowkey and disgraced reverend Stephen Sizer.
At this weekend’s annual Al-Quds Day demonstration, portraits of former IRGC general Qassem Soleimani were paraded outside 10 Downing Street, alongside placards that equated Zionism with Nazism, and an Israeli flag was burned and stamped on.
Despite Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) being repeatedly sanctioned by the UK government, and Soleimani himself labelled a terrorist by the US government, at least two images of him and a few clothing items featuring his likeness were touted outside the Prime Minister’s Office on Sunday.
Between 3000 and 5000 people attended the anti-Israel parade, which began at 3pm outside the Home Office and marched to Parliament just over half a mile away.
Left: a man carries a picture of Qasem Soleimani (Credit: Twitter), and right: a man wears a badge with Soleimani's face on it during Qud's Day demonstration outside 10 Downing Street, April 16, 2023
Speaking on stage outside Downing Street, disgraced former Labour MP Chris Williamson, whose security pass to Parliament was taken away by a committee earlier this year over his links with the Iranian regime-backed Press TV, claimed Palestinians have the “absolute right to resist and the absolute right to armed resistance,”
“We should support the resistance of the Palestinian people in all its forms,” he said.
Two home-made signs present at London's 2023 Quds Day protest; one accusing Israel of having the same mindset as the Nazis, and another accusing Nazis of going to Israel following the Second World War (Credit: Twitter)
Williamson said that Israel is a “terrorist state” that uses “exploding bullets to shoot children” which will knowingly lead to limbs needing to be amputated. He also claimed “Palestine won the [football] world cup even though they weren’t playing” due to some countries displaying solidarity with the cause.
He also asserted that Zionism is a “racist settler colonial ideology” and that the “apartheid in Palestine by the Israeli regime is even worse than [that of] South Africa.”
Williamson was suspended from the Labour Party in 2019 following his comments surrounding the party’s handling of allegations of antisemitism within the party and was blocked that same year by Labour’s NEC from standing as a Labour candidate in the General Election.
Before speaking, Williamson was introduced by Nazim Ali, director of the Islamic Human Rights Commission (IHRC), who thanked the former shadow cabinet member for “all that you’ve done, and all that you’ve had to suffer as a result of that,”
Ali himself has previously blamed the Grenfell fire tragedy on the “Zionists”.
Ali also introduced former vicar Stephen Sizer, who he claimed was a victim of a “witch hunt”.
Sizer was defrocked by the Church of England after being found guilty last year of “antisemitic activity” when he shared a link accusing Jews and Israel of having responsibility for the 9/11 attacks.
Banners being carried at the Quds Day march pic.twitter.com/wFBYTIKrDZ— Harry's Place (@hurryupharry) April 16, 2023
London-born rapper Lowkey, who has previously drawn criticism for calling Israel a “racist endeavour” and a song referencing the “Zionist lobby”, made a surprise appearance to advocate for greater involvement in “Palestine action”, and spoke about ways in which activists can “look at ways within [the UK] that we can make it harder for Israel to do what it wants,”
How to mark “Quds Day” in London, right in front of the Home Office. Dress up as an executioner and stamp on the ashes of an Israeli flag burned by Neturei Karta, a sort of Jewish answer to the Westboro Baptist Church.— habibi (@habibi_uk) April 17, 2023
With Khomeinist leaders just metres away. 1/5 pic.twitter.com/2N80VoHI6S
Another speaker, Farrah Koutteineh, said: “Absolutely no one has the right to tell Palestinians how to resist, how to survive an oppressor relentlessly trying to erase their very existence.
“Palestinians resisting brutal settler colonialism, military occupation, apartheid, is not terrorism and is not extremism, it is resistance,” she said.
Last week three British citizens, a mother and her two daughters, were murdered when they were shot to death at point blank range as they drove through the West Bank.
Religious anti-zionism Jews join Muslims in condemnation of the political ideology at London's 2023 Al Quds Day, the anti-Israel rally is held on the last Friday of every Ramadan. #AlQuds2023 #Israel #Ramadan pic.twitter.com/6D4IddE0qC— Robert Carter (@Bob_cart124) April 16, 2023
Delia Mattis, a leading Black Lives Matters activist, said the practice of labelling people as terrorists was a “tactic of white supremacists”.
Mattis used Nelson Mandela as an example of someone who was labelled by his opponents as a terrorist before becoming President of South Africa.
“Do you see what they are doing to Palestinians? Do you see when Palestinians rise up against subjugation and brutality, do you hear what they call them?
“They call them terrorists. [But] they are fighting for freedom; they are freedom fighters.
“I define terrorism as a state deliberately murdering children, and women and pregnant women, and journalists, that’s how I define terrorism. And this government in the UK is as guilty as the one in Israel.”
IHRC Chair of Trustees, Raza Kazim, and former IHRC director Seyed Hashem Moosavi were both present.
Here Raza Kazim angrily confronts an Israel supporter, with a thug behind him raising a picture of Iranian terror leader Soleimani and sporting a shirt comparing Zionism to Nazism.— habibi (@habibi_uk) April 16, 2023
Kazim is Chair of trustees at the IHRC charity.
The Charity Commission never stops this abuse. pic.twitter.com/0pRk0CBm1j
Also present was the deputy director of the Islamic Centre of England, Abbas Abedi, who, as the JC revealed, made a series of antisemitic speeches. Among them, Abedi said that “Zionists” were behind the Islamic State group, and that Jews slaughtered thousands of Muslim children and raped thousands of women.
Seyed Hashem Moosavi (brown tunic, sixth from the left) of the Islamic Centre of England attends Al-Quds Day demonstration outside Parliament, alongside deputy director of the centre Abbas Abedi (light blue tunic, to Moosavi's right), April 16, 2023
Other groups present included the trade unionist Workers Party from Brighton, the newly formed “Covivencia Alliance” led by Sizer, the Jewish Network for Palestine run by David Cannon, and Mick Napier from the Scotland Palestine Solidarity Committee.
Rabbi Ahron Cohen and a contingent of Neturei Karta, a fringe group of Charedi Jews that oppose Zionism, led the burning of the Israeli flag, directed by Kazim.
Directing flag burning at the "Quds Day" racist rally for terrorists. Perfectly acceptable activity for the chair of trustees of a registered charity, right?— habibi (@habibi_uk) April 17, 2023
Raza Kazim's IHRC has received an "official warning" from the Charity Commission.
He's obviously petrified, isn't he. pic.twitter.com/VcIBxzDEcF
On stage, the rabbi said next year they would “celebrate Quds Day in a free Palestine,”
Some youths belonging to the pro-Palestine demonstration antagonised a smaller group of counter-demonstration waving Israeli flags.
At least two youths belonging to the Palestinian demonstration repeatedly attempted to circumvent police in order to antagonise the pro-Israel counter-demonstration. pic.twitter.com/FNqHB11zIb— Daniel Ben-David (@DannyBenDavid) April 17, 2023
Last month, protesters outside the Prime Minister's Office called for "every single Palestinian martyr to be honoured".
Initiated in Iran shortly after the 1979 Islamic Revolution, Al-Quds Day takes its name from the Arabic-language name for Jerusalem, and is an annual pro-Palestine event held on the last Friday of Ramadan.