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Mayor Khan Concerned by Al Quds (16/06/2017)

After a petition calling for the annual Al Quds Day march in London to be cancelled garnered over 18,000 views, London Mayor Sadiq Khan will meet a second time with Met Police Commissioner

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(source: Rick Findler/PA Wire)

Concerns have continued to build up over the upcoming Al Quds Day, this time coming from the London Mayor.

London Mayor Sadiq Khan has “passed on” concerns over the controversial Al Quds Day march taking place this Sunday to the Metropolitan Police Commissioner.

Al Quds Day originated in Iran in 1979 to show support for Palestinian statehood and oppose Zionism and Israeli statehood. The Islamic Human Rights Commission organized the march set to take place on Sunday the 18th of June in central London, where “people from all over the country will be uniting for the freedom of the oppressed in Palestine and beyond.”

Last week a petition organized by the North West Friends of Israel called for Khan to cancel the event over the presence of Hezbollah flags in previous years. The petition also noted the terrorist attacks in Manchester and London as reasons to disallow potentially extremist points of views to march through the city.

“After the terrible recent terrorist events in Manchester and London this display of extremism has no place on the streets of the UK”, states the petition. “Allowing this march to go ahead will send a worrying message to the UK’s Jewish community and call into question the commitment of the Mayor of London to eradicate extremism and anti-Semitism.”

By Thursday, the petition had received over 18,000 signatures, nearly triple what it had been on Wednesday when it reached major news outlets.

Khan’s initial response was to point out that he had no legal right to cancel the march as London Mayor, and a spokesperson confirmed, “Protesters have the right to march as long as they do so within the law.”

Mayor Sadiq Khan and Metropolitan Police Commissioner Cressida Dick (source: AP Photo/Alastair Grant)

One contention made by the petitioners is that, by permitting marchers to wave the flag of Hezbollah, the Al Quds Day organizers are violating the law.

Citing guidance by then-Home Secretary Theresa May based on Section 13 of the Terrorism Act 2000, the petition notes that those who display articles of a “proscribed organization are guilty of a criminal offence”, and that “Hezbollah’s External Security Organization was proscribed in March 2001 and in 2008…”

The Al Quds Day organizers contend that this law does not include the Hezbollah flag, which represents the political wing of the organization as well as the military wing, and “the political wing of Hezbollah is not a proscribed organization.”

It was reported last week that Khan had reached out to Metropolitan Police Commissioner Cressida Dick to discuss the march, and a second discussion is expected to take place on Friday.

Hundreds of community members are expected to counter-protest the Al Quds March on Sunday, according to the Jewish Chronicle.

Titled the Stand Against Hate Rally, the counter-protest is being organized by the Zionist Federation with backing from the Board of Deputies and Jewish Leadership Council (JLC).

The JLC’s chief executive Simon Johnson 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?”

A Community Security Trust spokesperson added: “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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