Metropolitan Police set to intervene over ‘jihad’ calls at Palestine protests

Officers set to act against anyone ‘calling for jihad specifically against Israel’

Adam Forrest
Saturday 28 October 2023 09:50 BST
Smiling people rip down posters of kidnapped Israeli children in London's Leicester Square

Metropolitan Police officers are set to intervene if activists call for “jihad” against Israel at pro-Palestine protests in London this weekend.

However, the head of the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) has pointed out that calling for jihad is not an automatic hate crime.

Police expect about 100,000 people to join a huge demonstration in London demanding a ceasefire in the Israel-Hamas war, with other major rallies organised in Manchester and Glasgow.

Scotland Yard has faced criticism for failure to act against “jihad” chants and using social media to explain why the term had “a number of meanings”.

Suggesting a more proactive this weekend, Kyle Gordon, who is leading the Met’s command team, said: “If somebody is calling for jihad specifically against Israel the officers will intervene, gather the information, report it back into us.”

The Met specialist said “we’ll be working with colleagues [from counter-terrorism] in relation to what the best course of action is”.

Prosecutors have been placed in Met control rooms during recent pro-Palestine protests in London to provide legal advice to officers about whether to intervene.

Max Hill KC, the outgoing head of the CPS, said both police and prosecutors were “applying the law” as best they could.

Asked why activists shouting “jihad” had not been arrested, he told The Telegraph: “In any case arising from the current protests, there needs to be a very careful consideration of the actual circumstances in which something is said, or a flag is waived or actions are taken.”

Protesters during a Palestine Solidarity Campaign demonstration in Edinburgh

A video emerged of an activist chanting “jihad” at one event last week at a protest organisd by the Islamist group Hizbut-Tahrir – but officers had said no offences were identified in the footage.

Met commissioner Sir Mark Rowley met home secretary Suella Braverman earlier this week to discuss her demand for officers to use the “full force of the law” after video emerged of the “jihad” chant.

Calling for tougher legislation, Sir Mark suggested that laws around extremism should be redrawn since they had failed to take into account “truly toxic messages” online.

Sir Mark also pointed out that Hizb ut-Tahrir was banned in countries like Germany as well as “most of the Muslim world” but not the UK. He added: “I think there’s lessons to be learned.”

Pro-Palestine protests have been held in London and across the UK

Meanwhile, police counter-terrorism sources have claimed agents working for Iran are helping stoke unrest at pro-Palestine protests in the UK.

A security source told The Times: “Senior police have said that the policing of protest, disinformation and other linked issues are the most challenging they’ve faced. The Iranian links are a major part of that. Look at the past year where Iran has stepped up its activities in the UK.”

Asked about foreign actors helping stoke unrest in the UK, foreign secretary James Cleverly said: “Sadly I do think that a minority, a small minority within those protests, have got very much more negative aims.”

The cabinet minister told protesters: “Be conscious of this and be conscious about disinformation and manipulation.”

Robin Simcox, the counter-extremism commissioner, said last week that the “scale of Iranian-backed activity in this country and the extent to which Iran attempts to stoke extremism here” had not been fully appreciated.

It comes as Israel knocked out communications in the Gaza Strip in intensified attacks, largely cutting off the 2.3 million population from contact with each other and the outside world.

The UN General Assembly approved a resolution calling for a “humanitarian truce” in Gaza. The UK government – which has called for a “humanitarian pause” – abstained from the motion, and criticised it failure to include unequivocal condemnation of Hamas’ terrorist attacks.

Mr Cleverly said Hamas do not want a ceasefire, as he defended the government’s rejection of calls for one. “As yet, I have seen or heard nothing from Hamas that gives me any confidence that they either desire or would abide by calls a ceasefire.”

Israel says it is targeting Hamas fighters who it claims are operating from among civilians, with the UK government calculating that about 200 British nationals remain in Gaza.

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