“We are all Hezbollah,” read the signs on last year’s annual march on London’s Al Quds Day, in which mostly Muslim protesters called for the destruction of Israel and the ouster of their “Zionist” supporters from England.
In a nation that has taken to banning high-profile foreign critics of Islam – from scholar Robert Spencer to radio talk-show star Michael Savage for so-called “hate speech,” it’s a curious dichotomy.
But not enough to call off this year’s march scheduled for Sunday.
“The real problem is the contrast in how the slightest criticism of Islam in the U.K. is perceived by British police, who readily go about arresting and
prosecuting people for it,” writes columnist Judith Bergman, an attorney and political analyst. “An afternoon of racism is in store for Londoners on Sunday, but as long
as the hate is directed against Jews by Muslims, British authorities apparently have no problem with it.”
There will be similar Al Quds Day marches in Toronto, Berlin and Tehran Sunday. Al Quds is both the Muslim name for Jerusalem and the day of celebration for the destruction of Israel’s capital city.
Hezbollah is arguably the largest terrorist organization in the world, one sponsored by Iran.
The leader of last year’s London Al Quds rally, Nazim Ali – director of the “Islamic Human Rights Commission,” which organizes the annual march – called for the annihilation of Israel and accused British Jews of being behind the 2017 fire in London’s Grenfell Towers apartment complex.
“This demonstration calls on justice for Grenfell,” said Ali. “Some of the biggest supporters of the Conservative Party are Zionists. They are responsible for the murder of the people in Grenfell. We are fed up of the Zionists. We are fed up of their rabbis. We are fed up of their synagogues. We are fed up of their supporters.”
What did the hate-speech-conscious U.K. authorities think?
“It’s just an opinion,” a female police officer said.
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“The real problem is the contrast in how the slightest criticism of Islam in the U.K. is perceived by British police, who readily go about arresting and prosecuting people for it,” writes Bergman.
Last June, Nigel Pelham of Sussex, England, was sentenced to 20 months in prison after being found guilty on “eight counts of publishing threatening written material intending to stir up religious hatred against Muslims,” according to the Sussex police. Sgt. Peter Allen, an officer specifically dealing with “hate crimes,” commented then: “Nigel Pelham used Facebook to express some truly offensive views, with no understanding of how serious his actions were. Many people see social media as a harmless and sometimes faceless place to air their opinions, however I hope this shows we will not tolerate this type of behavior and will act when someone reports their concern about what someone is posting.”
Canadian journalist Lauren Southern was barred from entering the U.K. in March purportedly over a poster she distributed about Islam in February.
Nevertheless, Ali’s comments at the Al Quds march last year were evaluated by the police and found to be of no concern.
“We considered whether offenses of inciting racial or religious hatred or a public-order offense had been committed, in line with the tests set out in the Code for Crown Prosecutors,” said the official statement. “We concluded that the evidential test in the Code was not met and therefore no charges have been authorized.”
To which Bergman writes: “In the U.K., calling for the annihilation of an entire people – the Jews – as well as blood libeling and inciting against British Jews is not considered ‘inciting racial or religious hatred’ and apparently does not even lead to charges. British authorities apparently consider marching with terrorist flags while calling for the death of Jews a legitimate activity.”
Last year, Sadiq Khan the mayor of London, wrote to then-Home Secretary Amber Rudd asking her to close the legal loophole that makes it legitimate for terrorist supporters to fly Hezbollah flags on the streets of London.
Rudd explained the difference: “The group that reportedly organized the parade, the Islamic Human Rights Commission, is not a proscribed terrorist organization. This means they can express their views and demonstrate, provided that they do so within the law. The flag for the organization’s military wing is the same as the flag for its political wing. Therefore, for it to be an offense under Section 13 of the Terrorism Act 2000, for an individual to display the Hezbollah flag, the context and manner in which the flag is displayed must demonstrate that it is specifically in support of the proscribed elements of the group.”
Khan was not placated by the explanation and called for the march in his city to be stopped.
At this Sunday’s march, vicar Stephen Sizer, who suggested that Israel was behind 9/11 and was banned from social media by Church of England authorities for six months for sharing “clearly anti-Semitic” material, will be one of the main speakers at the Al Quds march. Sizer has also apparently met top Hezbollah officials in Lebanon and participated in a 2014 conference in Iran where he was to deliver a speech on the “Israeli lobby.” The conference was reportedly attended by several Holocaust deniers; it was intended to “unveil the secrets behind the dominance of the Zionist lobby over U.S. and EU politics.”
“An afternoon of racism is in store for Londoners on Sunday, but as long as the hate is directed against Jews by Muslims, British authorities apparently have no problem with it,” concluded Bergman.