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Hamas and Hezbollah Flags on London Streets?

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Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah on a poster next to the Dome of the rock in Jerusalem at the 2014 Al Quds day parade. (Photo: Dan Kitwood/Getty Images)

The annual Al Quds day parade in London, which marches against the State of Israel, will go ahead this year despite a campaign mounted against it. In previous years demonstrators have waved Hamas and Hezbollah flags at the march. Last year there were even placards saying “We Are All Hezbollah.”

Hezbollah is an Iranian backed Lebanese militia group founded to fight Israel during the Lebanese civil war but now fighting on the regime side in the Syrian Civil War. Hamas is the Muslim Brotherhood’s Palestinian affiliate and is now the governing body of the Gaza strip.

Both organizations are listed as terrorist organizations in the UK, however the political wing of Hezbollah is not listed as a terrorist organization.

“We have long argued that it is deeply unacceptable for Hezbollah flags to be flown here in the UK, especially on this annual outpouring of hatred” a spokesman for the Jewish security organization the Community Service Trust (CST) said.

“Hezbollah itself makes no distinction between its political and military wings and the flag includes an assault rifle, so there is no mistaking what is going on here.”

Al Quds day was instituted by the Islamic Republic of Iran in 1979 to be held annually on the last Friday of Ramadan. It is intended as a day of opposition to the existence of Israel and Israeli control over Jerusalem. It is held around the world at the behest of Iran.

London’s parade is organized by the extremist-linked Islamic Human Rights Commission (IHRC), as it has been in previous years. In 2015, the IHRC previously awarded Charlie Hebdo the “Islamophobe of the Year” award, for the cartoons which led to nine of its staff being murdered by jihadists, along with two police officers and a maintenance worker.

According to the website, the London march will take place on June 18 and “people from all over the country will be uniting for the freedom of the oppressed in Palestine and beyond.”

The supporting organizations are Union of Islamic Students Association in the UK, Islamic Students Association in London, Ahlulbayt Islamic Mission, Cambridge Stop the War Coalition, Friends of Al-Aqsa, InMinds, Jews for Boycotting Israeli Goods, Muslim Association of Britain, Neturei Karta UK, Scottish Palestine Solidarity Campaign and Stop the War Coalition.

Former Stop the War coalition chair Jeremy Corbyn, now head of the Labour Party, previously referred to Hamas and Hezbollah as his “friends.”

The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, received a petition with over 3,500 signatures (there are over 5,000 signatures at the time of writing), but told the media  he does not have the power to ban the march.

The petition noted that waving Hezbollah flags is a criminal offence because Hezbollah’s military wing is proscribed as a terrorist organization.

“Allowing this march to go ahead will send a worrying message to the UK’s Jewish community and call into question the commitment of the Mayor of London to eradicate extremism and anti-Semitism,” the petition said.

A counter-demonstration is being organized by a coalition of Jewish and pro-Israel organizations, including the World Jewish Congress, Board of Deputies, Jewish Leadership Council, We Believe in Israel, Sussex Friends of Israel, North London Friends of Israel and the Israel Advocacy Movement.

Al Quds Day has its origins in anti-Zionism and through the years, the parade through London has become increasingly hostile, with its supporters overtly proclaiming their support for terrorist organisations and shamelessly calling for the destruction of Israel,” the counter demonstration team said in an online statement.

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Elliot Friedland

Elliot Friedland is a research fellow at Clarion Project.