Appearing yesterday at Westminster Magistrates’ Court, Mohammed Iftikhar Hanif, 27; Jawaad Hussain, 24; Asif Ali, 25; and Adil Mota, 26, all from Blackburn, pleaded not guilty to charges of using threatening, abusive or insulting words, or behaviour, with intent, likely to stir up racial hatred.
The charges relate to the convoy on 16th May, participants in which were caught on video allegedly shouting through a megaphone “F*** the Jews…rape their daughters” as they drove through Jewish neighbourhoods waving the flag of the Palestinian Authority, during fighting between Hamas and Israel.
The incident took place a stone’s throw from a synagogue in West Hampstead and continued into St John’s Wood. The convoy had previously and provocatively passed through other Jewish neighbourhoods as well, including Hendon and Golders Green.
The abuse was condemned by the Prime Minister and Home Secretary.
In a statement, the Metropolitan Police Service admitted that they had failed so badly to monitor the convoy that it took hours to find the car in question, which was identified from photographs taken by a Jewish member of the public who had the presence of mind to capture images of the vehicles’ licence plates. Later that day, the four arrests were made.
The charges are punishable by up to three years in prison.
It is understood that Mr Mota’s lawyer told the court that his client was travelling as part of the convoy but was not involved in the alleged incident.
All four defendants were released without bail conditions, with the trial scheduled for 3rd November at Wood Green Crown Court.
Campaign Against Antisemitism’s analysis of Home Office statistics shows that an average of over three hate crimes are directed at Jews every single day in England and Wales, with Jews almost four times more likely to be targets of hate crimes than any other faith group.