Metropolitan Police criticised after failing to take action over 'jihad' chants at pro-Palestine protest

Immigration minister Robert Jenrick said chanting 'jihad' on the streets of London was 'inciting terrorist violence'


People take part in a 'March For Palestine', in London on October 21, 2023, to "demand an end to the war on Gaza". The UK has pledged its support for Israel following the bloody attacks by Hamas, which killed more than 1,400 people, and has announced that humanitarian aid to the Palestinians will be increased by a third -- an extra £10 million pounds ($12 million). Israel is relentlessly bombing the small, crowded territory of Gaza, where more than 3,400 people have been killed, most of them Palestinian civilians, according to the local authorities. (Photo by HENRY NICHOLLS / AFP) (Photo by HENRY NICHOLLS/AFP via Getty Images)

The Metropolitan Police have been criticised for their handling of pro-Palestine marches in central London on Saturday. 

Thousands of people gathered at Marble Arch in central London for Saturday's march, clutching signs emblazoned with "Freedom for Palestine" and "Stop Bombing Gaza".

Chants included "Judaism yes, Zionism no, the state of Israel must go", and "5, 6, 7, 8, Israel is a terrorist state". Protesters also chanted "from the river to the sea, Palestine will be free" after the Hamas terror attack earlier this month.

A small group of pro-Palestinian protesters held a separate demonstration in central London on Saturday calling for "Muslim armies" to rescue the people of Palestine.

A video posted on social media of the demonstration shows a man speaking into a microphone in front of a banner reading "Muslim Armies! Rescue the People of Palestine", with the name of the group "Hizb ut-Tahrir Britain" on it.

The main speaker asks: "What is the solution to liberate people from the concentration camp called Palestine?"

A man standing to the side of the speaker, but neither on a platform nor speaking into the microphone, can then be heard chanting words including "Jihad", as can some others attending the protest.

The force said no offences were identified in the video of the Hizb ut-Tahrir Britain protest. A total of 10 arrests were made linked to the protests in London on Saturday but only for offences involving fireworks, public order and assaulting an emergency service worker.

However, Immigration minister Robert Jenrick said chanting "Jihad" on the streets of London was "inciting terrorist violence".

Speaking to Sky News on Sunday, he said the Government would speak to the Metropolitan Police about its decision to not act over the Jihad chant video.

Jenrick claimed that "a lot of people" will find the Metropolitan Police's analysis "surprising", adding: "That's something that we intend to raise with them and to discuss this incident with them."

The Metropolitan Police previously admitted they were unlikely to arrest anti-Israel demonstrators who chanted "From the river to the sea”.

Deputy Assistant Commissioner Ade Adelekan said there were some chants that would definitely be unlawful. But with others, he said “there is dispute over their meaning, including one particular chant that has been frequently heard at pro-Palestinian demonstrations for many years” - by which, he made clear, he meant “from the river to the sea”.

The police were also previously under pressure to ban pro-Palestinian marches through central London this weekend after a JC investigation revealed that leaders in several of the groups behind them had links to Hamas.

The Metropolitan Police said in a statement: "In addition to officers deployed with the protest, we have counter-terrorism officers with specialist language skills and subject expertise working alongside public order officers in our main operations room, assessing any video and photos that emerge.

"They have reviewed a video from the Hizb ut-Tahrir protest in which a man can be seen to chant 'Jihad, jihad'.

"The word has a number of meanings but we know the public will most commonly associate it with terrorism.

"Specialist officers have assessed the video and have not identified any offences arising from the specific clip. We have also sought advice from specialist Crown Prosecution Service lawyers, who have reached the same conclusion.

"However, recognising the way language like this will be interpreted by the public and the divisive impact it will have, officers identified the man involved and spoke to him to discourage any repeat of similar chanting."

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