Israel 'should be wiped off map', says Al Quds Day speaker as Hezbollah flags fly

Jewish groups argue flags representing 'terror group' should be banned


Hezbollah flags were once again flown at Sunday's annual Al Quds march in central London, where one speaker said Israel should be "wiped from the map".

Addressing the crowd, Shaykh Mohammad Saeed Bahmanpour also claimed Zionists' “days are numbered”, as the pro-Palestinian demonstration clashed with Zionist counter-demonstrators and far-right nationalists.

Al Quds Day, named for the Arabic word for Jerusalem, is an anti-Israel day of protest held around the time of the final Friday of Ramadan, first initiated by Iran’s Ayatollah Khomeini in 1979.

This year, once again, protestors were legally allowed to fly the yellow Hezbollah flag, which depicts a hand grasping a stylised assault rifle.

This is because of a legal loophole as the militant group's military wing is banned as a terror organisation in the UK but its political wing is not, despite calls from London Mayor Sadiq Khan for the Home Office to proscribe both wings.

Nazim Hussein Ali, who said there was a connection between the Grenfell Tower tragedy and “Zionists” at last year’s event, once again led the protest.

A large cheer went up as Mr Ali urged the crowd to thank “people of Jewish backgrounds” who attended the rally, including members of the strictly Orthodox Neturei Karta sect, who oppose Zionism.

In between the speeches, demonstrators burned an Israeli flag.

A Zionist counter-demonstration was held in a designated space 100 metres from the Al Quds protest, with police officers maintaining a “neutral zone” between the two.

Supporters of Israel played the country’s national anthem on speakers, as well as Israel’s recent Eurovision-winning entry.

Fiona Sharpe, the co-founder of Sussex Friends of Israel, told the JC: “It’s important that the Jewish community has a presence here. While we don’t want to curtail anyone’s freedom of speech, we do not want it to become hate speech.

“Flying of the Hezbollah flag crosses the line – Hezbollah being a known terrorist organisation. It’s a threat to us all, not just the Jewish community.

“We wouldn’t want to see the flying of an Isis flag on the streets of London. I don’t think it’s appropriate to fly the Hezbollah flag.”

As the Al Quds march proceeded towards Downing Street, Zionist activists chanted “Terrorist scum, off our streets”, and “Whose streets? Our streets”.

They were repelled by police officers in riot gear, as the Al Quds march proceeded towards Piccadilly Circus.

Earlier in the day, members of a group of far-right football fans were cleared from the area after attempting to enter the zone in which pro-Palestinian demonstrators had congregated.

Behind a wall of police they goaded demonstrators, calling them “terrorist scum”.

The far right nationalists, many of whom carried placards and leaflets calling for the release of EDL founder Tommy Robinson, were kept apart from the Zionist demonstrators by police.

Danny Kirton, one of the protestors, told the JC: “We’re all football lads. We’ve come here to smash them terrorists. We’re all just different football supporters and we’ve come to do them, really.”

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