Over the past weeks, we have submitted a Parliamentary Petition signed by thousands of people from every corner of the UK, and made written representations urging the Home Secretary to immediately proscribe Hizballah in its entirety under the Terrorism Act in order to give police the powers they need to stop the pro-Hizballah parade on Sunday.
Proscription is important because the pro-Hizballah parade is currently only permitted due to a legal loophole. Whilst the British government has proscribed the “military wing” of Hizballah under the Terrorism Act 2000, the “political wing” is not proscribed, something that even Hizballah finds ridiculous. Indeed, its Deputy Secretary-General, Naim Qassem, mocked the distinction, saying in 2012: “We don’t have a military wing and a political one; we don’t have Hizballah on one hand and the resistance party on the other…Every element of Hizballah, from commanders to members as well as our various capabilities, are in the service of the resistance, and we have nothing but the resistance as a priority.”
We have also met with the Metropolitan Police Service to warn them about our serious security concerns, and we have made written representations to them as well.
We have also written once again to the Charity Commission about the activities of the charities which organise the parade.
We have written a joint open letter to the Home Secretary along with a prominent Muslim anti-extremism charity, drawing attention to the fact that this pro-Hizballah parade not only endangers Jews, but last year also drew a deadly far-right terrorist attack against Muslims.
We have made numerous interventions in the media and we have issued detailed briefings to journalists.
We have done all that we can, but Hizballah has not been proscribed in its entirety. Sajid Javid alone has that power, but as a new Home Secretary who has only been in office a short while, it was always ambitious to hope that he could proscribe Hizballah fully in time for Sunday’s pro-Hizballah parade.
The parade will be going ahead.
We would now like to tell you in detail what may happen on Sunday, and what you can do to help.
What is happening on Sunday
At 15:00 the parade will begin outside the Embassy of Saudi Arabia on Curzon Street, Mayfair, London W1J 5JG.
That is also where counterdemonstrators are also expected to arrive. We anticipate that most counterdemonstrators will be peaceful, but some may attempt to enter the pro-Hizballah parade or disrupt the speeches. Once the parade begins to move, we also anticipate that counterdemonstrators will attempt to block its path at various points.
There is a serious risk of violent disorder and even acts of terrorism due to the combination of mostly Shia Hizballah supporters protesting outside the embassy of Sunni Saudi Arabia, confronted by a range of far-right groups, all opposed by a peaceful assortment of Jewish protesters, former soldiers and Muslim counter-extremism activists, all on a day that the Metropolitan Police Service is stretched securing a major women’s march celebrating women’s suffrage. The pro-Hizballah parade is a magnet for extremists and we are having to privately prosecute the parade’s leader over comments allegedly made during the event last year. The far-right also feeds off the parade by using it to portray all Muslims as terrorists, and last year it was targeted by the terrorist Darren Osborne before he changed his plan and attacked Finsbury Park Mosque instead.
On Sunday, the annual pro-Hizballah “Al Quds Day” parade will take place. It was started by Ayatollah Khomeini in Iran in 1979 and in London it is organised by a registered charity calling itself the Islamic Human Rights Commission.
In past years, those marching on the parade, have carried the flag of Hizballah, the Iranian-sponsored terrorist organisation which has perpetrated attacks on Jews from Buenos Aires to Burgas, and which has even been blamed for two bombings on London. There are usually many children on the parade, draped in the flag of Hizballah which depicts a fist brandishing an assault rifle, over the image of a bloodied dagger.
In the past, the march has been associated with antisemitic invective, for example CAA is currently privately prosecuting the leader of the march last year, Nazim Ali, whom we have charged over alleged statements including: “Some of the biggest corporations who are supporting the Conservative Party are Zionists. They are responsible for the murder of the people in Grenfell, in those towers in Grenfell. The Zionist supporters of the Tory Party…It is the Zionists who give money to the Tory Party to kill people in high-rise blocks.”
This year, the parade itself is likely to be more inflammatory because it:
- Is being held at a time of heightened tensions and direct military engagement between Iran, Hizballah and Israel;
- Will be addressed by highly-inflammatory speakers, including the disgraced Reverend Dr Stephen Sizer, who claimed that Israel was behind 9/11, and Mick Napier, who has led numerous disorderly demonstrations in his native Scotland and has a conviction for aggravated trespass at an anti-Israel demonstration; and
- Will start outside the Saudi Arabian embassy instead of the US embassy, which is where it was held in the past, giving rise to the possibility of a clash between the pro-Hizballah Shia marchers and pro-Saudi members of the Sunni community.
Far-right calls to action
The far-right uses the pro-Hizballah parade as a means by which to portray all Muslims as terrorist-sympathisers.
The far-right terrorist Darren Osborne attempted to ram the parade with his vehicle last year but instead opted to attack Finsbury Park Mosque when he ran into difficulties attacking the parade. One person was killed and twelve were injured.
This year, we have seen evidence of far-right groups and factions trying to incite their members to violently confront the pro-Hizballah marchers. It appears that there could be a significant far-right presence.
Members of the Jewish community must not be fooled into believing that our enemy’s enemy is our friend. The far-right is no friend of the Jewish people.
Jewish demonstrators caught in the middle
There will be a large peaceful counterdemonstration organised by the Zionist Federation, with the backing of various Jewish groups. Gideon Falter, Chairman of Campaign Against Antisemitism, will speak at the counterdemonstration about the anti-Jewish terrorist campaign waged by Hizballah and why it has not yet been fully prosecribed. At present, it is possible that far-right demonstrators will be ‘kettled’ by the police in the same pen as the Jewish community, potentially causing considerable disturbance.
The Jewish community is also due to be joined by Muslim leaders opposing extremism, and retired soldiers who have fought hard to defend our country from terrorists.
Women’s suffrage “Processions” march
The route of the pro-Hizballah parade is said to pass adjacent to the massive Processions march at which tens of thousands of women will march in celebration of 100 years of women’s suffrage, which is already putting considerable strain on the Metropolitan Police Service as the march must be protected against terrorism.
What you can do on Sunday
Send us evidence
Campaign Against Antisemitism is sending a substantial team from its Demonstration and Event Monitoring Unit to gather evidence at the pro-Hizballah parade. We intend to take legal action to bring any antisemitic criminals at the parade to justice. If you capture photographs or video that you think show a crime being committed, please send them to [email protected].
Go to the counterdemonstration
You can show your feelings about the pro-Hizballah parade by joining the Jewish community’s counterdemonstration, organised by the Zionist Federation. It is important to show that the supporters of Hizballah, a antisemitic genocidal terrorist organisation, are outnumbered by decent people who abhor antisemitism and terrorism.
However, please carefully read our analysis above. If you attend the counterdemonstration, we would advise against bringing children with you. Please be very careful and obey instructions from the police and security officials.
What you can do after Sunday
We will not be dropping this. Please subscribe to receive our e-mail updates so that we can tell you about our next steps when we are ready.
Whilst you wait, there are two actions you can take.
Keep sharing the petition
Sign and share our Parliamentary Petition to show Sajid Javid that there is strong support for Hizballah being fully designated as a terrorist organisation in the UK. Over 13,000 people from all but one of the UK’s 650 Parliamentary constituencies, from Orkney to St Ives, have signed our Parliamentary Petition.
Write to your MP
Polls show that the public wants the whole of Hizballah to be proscribed. Write to your MP and ask them to write to Sajid Javid on your behalf, urging him to proscribe Hizballah fully. You can easily write to your MP using www.writetothem.com.