Hundreds expected to protest against pro-Palestinian Al Quds Day march

Hezbollah and Hamas flags have been raised at previous Al-Quds Day events - which have also seen Jeremy Corbyn, as former Stop The War Coalition chair, address marchers


Hundreds of protesters from the community are expected to join a counter-demonstration on Sunday against the annual Al Quds Day parade taking place in central London.

The Stand Against Hate rally, organised by the Zionist Federation and backed by the Board of Deputies and the Jewish Leadership Council among others, will protest against the controversial  march for the “freedom of the oppressed in Palestine and beyond” which has regularly seen flags of terrorist organisations Hezbollah and Hamas raised on the streets of the capital.

Nearly 6,500 people have signed a petition set up by the North West Friends of Israel group in advance of Sunday’s parade calling for Mayor of London Sadiq Khan to ban the march, which will end at Grosvenor Square,  on the grounds that previous events have seen support  for illegal proscribed terror groups.

In the past Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn has spoken at the event, which is backed by the Stop The War Coalition, of which he was chair for several years.

Stop The War Coalition are once again listed as a supporting organisation at this year’s event – alongside the Muslim Association of Britain, the Union of Islamic Students Associations in the UK, and Neturei Karta UK.

Baroness Tonge will address  the 1,000 people expected to attend the event, along with Mick Napier for the Scottish Palestine Solidarity Campaign.

Paul Charney, Chairman of the Zionist Federation of Great Britain and Ireland said, "The Al Quds day march is an annual, Iranian sponsored march through the streets of London.

"Year in year out we see its participants supporting terrorism - waving Hezbollah and even Hamas flags, chanting about wiping out the Jewish state and standing side by side with extremism.

"At times like this, it is more important than ever that we counter any support for extremism and terrorism, and stand together to say that there is no place for this expression of solidarity with terrorists on our streets.

"It is imperative that we come in large numbers to end this hatefest and to show that London will not be divided by those who's sole aim is the promotion of extremism."

Simon Johnson, chief executive of the Jewish Leadership Council, called on Wednesday for the banning of the Hezbollah flag ahead of the parade on Sunday.

Mr Johnson, who will speak at the Zionist Federation counter-demo, said: “If the display of the ISIS flag is outlawed, why the difference? Why are we not treating the display and waving of the Hezbollah flag on the streets of the UK as prima facie evidence of extremism?

“Surely, after all the terrorist outrages in our cities, it is time for Zero Tolerance for terrorist flags on our streets – that is all terrorist flags. That includes Hezbollah flags.”

Sharon Vieira-Poole, a spokesperson on policing and crime at the mayor’s office, confirmed Mayor Khan had discussed the march with the Metropolitan Police Commissioner.

Ms Vieira-Poole said the police have operational independence, but added: “They have to operate within the law and the protesters have a right to march, as long as they do so within the law.”

She said the police had put in place “a comprehensive investigative plan to work with the organisers and monitor activity during the march,” but that “over the last three years no hate crimes have been reported from the march itself”.

In official guidance to supporters attending the march, the Islamic Human Rights Commission said: “Participants are welcome to bring flags that show solidarity with the Palestinian cause. Flags of proscribed organisations will not be allowed. For example, you can bring a Hezbollah flag to show support for the political wing of Hezbollah. This is because the political wing of Hezbollah is not a proscribed organisation.”

The IHRC also warned  supporters against getting into conversations with the counter-demonstration saying: “Do not engage or communicate with them. Their intention is to disrupt our rally, engaging them gives them the attention they seek.”

A City Hall spokeswoman also confirmed the mayor has no powers to stop a march so long as protesters remain within the law.

She added that the mayor appreciated “the impact of this event on local communities”.

The Zionist Federation has consulted with the Metropolitan Police and the Community Security Trust ahead of Sunday’s counter-demonstration.

A CST spokesman said: “We have long argued that it is deeply unacceptable for Hezbollah flags to be flown here in the UK, especially on this annual outpouring of hatred.

“Hezbollah itself makes no distinction between its political and military wings and the flag includes an assault rifle, so there is no mistaking what is going on here.”

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