Politics Explained

Is Priti Patel right to declare Hamas a terrorist organisation?

The home secretary has outlawed the Palestinian group due to its ‘terrorist capabilities’ and in a further bid to tackle extremism, says Sean O’Grady

Saturday 20 November 2021 01:23
<p>Patel is clear that the move is aimed at antisemitic elements</p>

Patel is clear that the move is aimed at antisemitic elements

Priti Patel isn’t always given much of a hearing for her ideas, perhaps because her personal reputation is poor, or because the listener is predisposed to dismiss her because she is a woman of colour, and a Tory with it, or because many of her policies don’t make much sense anyway, so it saves time.

So it may well be with her proposed ban on Hamas – membership or even support for which could qualify for a 14-year prison sentence on conviction. Thus, the waving of a Hamas flag or wearing a Hamas themed T-shirt, say, anywhere in the UK would become a criminal offence under the schedules of the Terrorism Act 2000. So, indeed, might calling Hamas “friends”, as Jeremy Corbyn did some years ago (since retracted). Probably the maximum penalties under the law would not be imposed for relatively trivial offences, but the proscription of Hamas is designed to act as a strong deterrent against the display of symbols that, in the minds of many, are offensive or worse.

Ms Patel is clear that the move is aimed at antisemitic elements who use, or misuse, the cause and name of Hamas to cause deliberate offence: “Hamas is fundamentally and rabidly antisemitic,” she said. “Antisemitism is an enduring evil which I will never tolerate. Jewish people routinely feel unsafe – at school, in the streets, when they worship, in their homes, and online.

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