The United Kingdom’s home secretary rejected in early September London Mayor Sadiq Khan’s request to ban the annual al-Quds Day march because it is a pro-Hezbollah demonstration that promotes antisemitism and support for terrorism.“The group that reportedly organized the parade, the Islamic Human Rights Commission, is not a proscribed terrorist organization. This means they can express their views and demonstrate, provided that they do so within the law,” wrote Home Secretary Amber Rudd in a letter to Khan that was first published Monday on the website of the Jewish Chronicle.According to the London- based newspaper, a source close to Khan said he was “extremely disappointed” that the home secretary will allow the al-Quds Day march to continue.Rudd said: “The flag for the [Hezbollah] organization’s military wing is the same as the flag for its political wing. Therefore, for it to be an offense under Section 13 of the Terrorism Act of 2000, for an individual to display the Hezbollah flag, the context and manner in which the flag is displayed must demonstrate that it is specifically in support of the proscribed elements of the group.”The United Kingdom banned Hezbollah’s entire military structure in 2008. The British government said at the time: “Hezbollah’s military wing also provides support to Palestinian terrorist groups in the occupied Palestinian territories, such as Palestinian Islamic Jihad.”The UK permits Hezbollah’s so-called political wing to legally operate in England. The European Union proscribed only Hezbollah’s military wing as a terrorist organization in 2013. In February of that year, Bulgaria’s government charged Hezbollah’s military wing with executing a terrorist attack against Israelis at the seaside resort town of Burgas, committing the murders of five Israelis and their Bulgarian bus driver.Another 32 Israelis were injured in the attack.The Netherlands, the US and Canada have designated Hezbollah’s entire organization a foreign terrorist entity.
The Jewish Chronicle reported that Andrew Dismore, a Labour Party London Assembly member, said: “I have spent over a decade campaigning for the complete proscription of Hezbollah, as I believe the distinction made between the ‘political’ and ‘military’ wings to be utterly bogus.”Khan wrote in his July letter to Rudd that extremist groups were “exploiting a loophole” because they carried Hezbollah’s flags.“Hezbollah is an illegal, proscribed organization, yet many perceive that it was actively celebrated during the Al Quds Day march,” Khan wrote, adding, “I would appreciate a response from the government that acknowledges the hurt that is felt and your plans to close any loophole.”
Thousands mark Al-Quds Day march in Iran (credit: REUTERS)