Met facing calls to cancel notorious pro-Iran Islamist Quds Days rally in London

The government’s adviser on political violence warns over ‘serious disorder’


Al Quds Day demonstrators march through central London in 2014. The yellow flag of terrorist group Hezbollah can be seen on the left (Photo by Dan Kitwood/Getty Images)

The Metropolitan Police are facing calls to ban the notorious annual Al Quds Day march as the government’s adviser on political violence warns it could provoke “serious disorder” and fan the flames of antisemitism.  

Politicians from both sides of the house said that Police Commissioner Sir Mark Rowley should crack down on the “Iran-inspired” event, scheduled for next Friday. In previous years, it has seen demands for Israel’s destruction and open support for terror groups supported by the Islamic Republic.

Lord Walney, the government’s independent adviser on political violence and disruption, said that allowing the “notorious anti-Israel jamboree” to go ahead would risk “serious disorder and antisemitic hatred” after October 7.

A Community Security Trust spokesperson called the event “a march predicated on anti-Israel hate” that was “inspired by the government of Iran with all the extremism and antisemitism that entails”. The Jewish Leadership Council said the support for terrorism seen from some at the annual event was “incredibly disturbing for the Jewish community”.

Both main parties’ London mayoral candidates also expressed deep concern.

Speaking at the Jewish community centre JW3 on Tuesday, London Mayor Sadiq Khan revealed he had asked then home secretary Amber Rudd to ban the annual march back in 2017.

“In previous years there were Hezbollah flags flown at the Quds march and there was language that was clearly – in my view – breaking the law,” Khan said, adding he intended to discuss it at a meeting with Home Secretary James Cleverly later this week.

Tory mayoral candidate Susan Hall said: “The police need to know they have the backing of the Mayor to enforce the law and ban this extremist march. As Mayor, I would ask the Met Commissioner to use the powers he has to ban protests that cause serious public disorder or disrupt community life.”

However, under the terms of the 1986 Public Order Act, the police commissioner must ask the home secretary to agree to a ban.

To do so, says the Act’s section 13, the commissioner must be satisfied that to allow the event to take place would create a serious risk of public disorder or disruption, or that the purpose of the organisers – in this case, an array of groups linked closely to the Iranian regime – amounts to “the intimidation of others”.

Since the police were given the power to ask for bans on protests, the Metropolitan Police have used it three times – all to stop protests by the extreme-right English Defence League. None of the protests since October 7 have been subjected to a ban.

Rowley has not sought to prohibit any of the previous marches that have taken place almost weekly since the October 7 terrorist attacks.

But Walney said the Al-Quds Day event posed a more serious risk: “There must be an even greater prospect of serious disorder and antisemitic hatred at this notorious anti-Israel jamboree. When weighing up if the al-Quds Day Parade should be allowed to go ahead, the Metropolitan Police should surely assess not just the greater risk of trouble on the day, but also the cumulative impact on the wellbeing of Jewish communities of these repeated demonstrations.

"Revised public order laws suggest that cumulative impact can be factored into decisions on permitting marches, we will not know if the framework is strong enough until the police put it to the test.”

This year’s march is due to take place on 5 April, the last Friday of Ramadan, a day originally chosen by Iran’s former leader Ayatollah Khomeini, who instigated Quds Day as an international anti-Israel event.

At last year’s march in London, protesters carried posters of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps terrorist mastermind Qasem Soleimani, who was killed by a US drone strike in 2020, along with placards demanding “resistance by any means necessary”. One poster read: “the more u support the Nazi Israel, the quicker ur end will be [sic].”

Khan told his JW3 audience he was disappointed that the government had not heeded his recommendations regarding the marches. But he welcomed the fact that the Iranian terrorist proxies Hezbollah were all proscribed under UK law, “because if you show membership or support for a proscribed organisation, that’s breaking the law and so it gives the police more powers”.

One of the march’s organisers is the Islamic Human Rights Commission (IHRC). Its current director, Massoud Shadjareh, is an Iranian regime supporter, who wrote in 2020 that “we are all Hezbollah” and that he “aspired to become like” Soleimani.

Another supporter is the Muslim Public Affairs Committee (MPACUK), which has the stated aims of “reviving the principle of jihad” and countering “the influence of the Zionist lobby”.

The list of supporters also includes Fight Racism, Fight Imperialism (FRFI), the Black Lives Matter Coalition UK, CAMPAIN, the Convivencia Alliance, the Peacemaker Trust and the Scotland Palestine Solidarity Campaign.

A post on the FRFI Facebook page on 9 October stated: “[we] extend our unconditional support to the Palestinians in their struggle to liberate themselves from illegal occupation by any means necessary”.

The Scotland Palestine Solidarity Campaign (SPSC), celebrated October 7 with a post on the day of the massacre that said the attack was “like the Warsaw Ghetto uprising, but on the Mediterranean”.

Leading political figures supported the demand for a ban.

Crossbench peer Lord Carlile KC, the former independent reviewer of terrorism, told the JC: “This march objectively runs the risk of resulting in public disorder and hate crime, however the organisers may try to the contrary. It should be banned this year.”

The Jewish Tory MP Andrew Percy said: “These groups don’t just hate Jews and Israel, they hate everything we stand for in the democratic west and their presence on our streets every year makes many people, not just British Jews, feel uncomfortable. Surely, this has to be the point where action is finally taken?”

The Tory candidate for Finchley and Golders Green, Alex Deane, said: “It’s plain to me - especially in the current environment - that this march should not go ahead.” His Labour opponent Sarah Sackman added: “There is real fear in our community about the hate on display around the Al-Quds Day Marches… The Home Secretary has the power to ban the marches and I hope that he will take whatever actions are necessary.”

Independent peer Ian Austin said: “Given the support for Hamas and Hezbollah that has been expressed on this march in the past, there is obviously no way it should be allowed to go ahead this year."

A spokesperson for the Board of Deputies of British Jews said: “The Al Quds Day parade is an annual Iranian-backed hate fest which in the past has featured flags and slogans supporting now-banned organisations including Hamas and Hizbollah. Given the recent dramatic upsurge in antisemitism, we would urge the police to ensure that proscribed flags are not used and that hate is not promoted in this parade, and that any offenders are arrested and prosecuted.”

The JC approached the Met Police for comment.

The IHRC said: “We will not be cowed into silence by those who wish to whitewash Israel’s crimes in Gaza. We will not be shamed by those who seek to sanitise the obscene acts being carried out by Israel in Gaza. We will not stay silent whilst the Gazans suffer.”

The Home Office said: “Antisemitism has no place in this country… and the support that has been shown for Hezbollah at the annual Al Quds march in London in previous years has been unacceptable. 

"We are backing our police with new powers to tackle criminality at protests, including mask-wearing to conceal identities.

“We expect the police to take a zero-tolerance approach to any law breaking.”

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