Two men have been charged with behaviour likely to stir up racial hatred for allegedly threatening to kill Jews at an anti-Israel protest in London during the 2021 conflict between Hamas and Israel, the Metropolitan Police have confirmed.
They are accused of chanting slogans that refer to a massacre of Jews by a Muslim army at the seventh-century battle of Khaybar in Arabia. It has long been acknowledged by police and the Crown Prosecution Service that the chant, which is often heard at anti-Israel protests in Britain, amounts to incitement to racial hatred, but until now, prosecutions have been rare.
Khaldoun Ahmad El-Ali, 27, and Mohammad Jihad Al Safi, 25 have been bailed to appear at Westminster magistrates court on May 17. If convicted they face a maximum sentence of seven years in prison.
The Arabic chant, “Khaybar, Khaybar Ya Yahud, Jaish Mohammed Sauf Ya’ud” means “Watch Out Jews, Remember Khaybar, the Army of Mohammed is returning”.
The two men are accused of uttering the chant at a demonstration in west London on May 22, 2021, which was addressed by the former Labour Party deputy leader John McDonnell.
The chant’s use in Britain dates back at least to 2010, when it was shouted at the then-Israeli deputy foreign minister Danny Ayalon when he spoke at the Oxford Union. The JC reported this at the time, and the Community Security Trust (CST) stated then it should be treated as a crime.
The 2021 conflict – in which Hamas fired more than 4,000 rockets at Israel, followed by Israeli air strikes on Gaza – saw a series of protests across Britain in which the chant was heard frequently.
The police investigation that has led to the men being charged followed a CST complaint.
A CST spokesman said: "CST welcomes these charges and thanks the police for all the work they have done on this investigation following our original complaint. We hope this sends out a powerful signal regarding chanting on anti-Israel protests."