The Metropolitan Police Service for London appears ready to confiscate flags, banners and other items bearing the insignia of the Hezbollah terrorist paramilitary organization during the annual Quds Day demonstration, stating on Tuesday that it will ‘intervene’ if it sees such things publicly displayed.
Quds Day is an Iranian sponsored anti-Zionist event which takes place in several international cities, including London, at the end of Ramadan, the Muslim month of fasting. This year it falls on June 2.
The event typically sees many expressions of anti-Israel and anti-Zionist sentiment, as well as the flying of Hezbollah flags and the display of the organization’s insignia.
In February, the House of Commons voted to ban all wings of Hezbollah, including its political branch which had previously not been proscribed, due to its destabilizing influence in the Middle East, classifying the movement as a terrorist organization.
The new law also tightened restrictions regarding the display of proscribed organization’s flags, granting the police stronger powers to confiscate such items.
Superintendent Nick Collins of the Metropolitan Police wrote to the Campaign Against Antisemitism organization on Tuesday, noting the previously widespread display of Hezbollah flags and symbols at the Quds Day march and the fact that the terrorist group has now been banned in its entirety by the UK government.
“There are a number of offenses under this [Terrorism] Act. One of these is that it is illegal to be a member of, or show support for a terrorist organization proscribed under the Act,” wrote Collins.
“Flags, banners and chanting can all lead to the suspicion that the individual involved is a member of, or supporter of the terrorist organization Hezbollah,” he wrote.
Collins concluded by saying that the Metropolitan Police “fully intend to intervene to enforce the law, where possible, should any offenses be disclosed.”
Stephen Silverman, Director of Investigations and Enforcement at the Campaign Against Antisemitism, said that it had been “outrageous that Hezbollah supporters were allowed to march through the streets of our capital” in previous years, given the organization’s responsibility for international acts of terrorism. He said that the announcement was the result of hard work by the Jewish community to bring this to an end.
“We are pleased that the police have put in place robust plans to enforce the law, and our Demonstration and Event Monitoring Unit will be out in force as well, to capture evidence should any crimes relating to supporting banned terrorist organizations be committed.”