Waving a Palestinian flag could be considered a criminal offence, Suella Braverman has told senior police officers.
In a letter to chief constables across England and Wales, the home secretary urged officers to use the ‘full force of the law’ against shows of support for Hamas following their unprecedented attack against Israel over the weekend….CONTINUE READING HERE
It comes after a number of pro-Palestinian marches have taken place throughout London in the wake of the attack, one of which saw three people arrested after 5,000 people turned up to protest the Israeli embassy in Kensington.
Hamas has been proscribed as a terrorist organisation by the UK and many other Western nations, which means it is illegal to belong to the group, wear clothing which suggests they are a member or publish images of flags or logos linked to the organisation.
However, in her letter Ms Braverman urges officers to use ‘the full force of the law’ to crack down not just on pro-Hamas symbols but also more broad anti-Israel and pro-Palestine sentiment.
‘At a time when Hamas terrorists are massacring civilians and taking the most vulnerable (including the elderly, women, and children) hostage, we can all recognise the harrowing effect that displays of their logos and flags can have on communities,’ Ms Braverman wrote.
‘It is not just explicit pro-Hamas symbols and chants that are cause for concern. I would encourage police to consider whether chants such as: “From the river to the sea, Palestine will be free” should be understood as an expression of a violent desire to see Israel erased from the world, and whether its use in certain contexts may amount to a racially aggravated section 5 public order offence.
‘I would encourage police to give similar consideration to the presence of symbols such as swastikas at anti-Israel demonstrations. Context is crucial. Behaviours that are legitimate in some circumstances, for example the waving of a Palestinian flag, may not be legitimate such as when intended to glorify acts of terrorism.
‘Nor is it acceptable to drive through Jewish neighbourhoods, or single out Jewish members of the public, to aggressively chant or wave pro-Palestinian symbols at. Where harassment is identified, I would encourage the police to take swift and appropriate enforcement action.
‘I encourage all chief officers to ensure that any protests which could exacerbate community tensions by way of offensive placards, chants, or behaviours that could be construed as incitement or harassment, have a strong police presence to ensure perpetrators are appropriately dealt with, and that communities feel protected,’ she wrote.
Her statement comes after Rishi Sunak vowed that anyone in the UK supporting Hamas would be ‘held to account’ in the aftermath of the attack on Israel.
During a visit to a synagogue in north London on Monday, the PM said police had ‘been given very clear guidance and advice from the government to do everything that they can to keep the community safe’.
Officers will ‘clamp down on any behaviour that falls foul of the law’, Sunak said.
Human rights barrister Shami Chakrabarti responded to the home secretary’s letter by claiming the fact it had been ‘so readily press-released suggests that the intervention is at best virtue signalling and at worst seeking to compromise operational independence’
‘Police chiefs know their powers and duties. Anxious and vulnerable minority communities are not made safer by the politicisation of policing in difficult and dangerous times.’
The Palestinian Mission to the United Kingdom has been reached for comment…..CONTINUE READING HERE