Mon. Jul 22nd, 2024
alert-–-rishi-sunak-tells-the-met-he-expects-it-to-tackle-extremism-‘head-on’-amid-deepening-row-with-top-cop-mark-rowley-over-light-touch-policing-of-calls-for-‘jihad’-and-anti-semitic-chanting-at-pro-palestine-protest-in-londonAlert – Rishi Sunak tells the Met he expects it to tackle extremism ‘head on’ amid deepening row with top cop Mark Rowley over light-touch policing of calls for ‘Jihad’ and anti-Semitic chanting at pro-Palestine protest in London

Rishi Sunak today warned police he expects them to tackle extremism ‘head-on’ amid a furious row with Metropolitan Police chief Sir Mark Rowley over calls for ‘jihad’ at a pro-Palestine protest.

The Prime Minister warned that the chanting at events in London at the weekend was a ‘threat’ to British Jews and the country’s ‘democratic values’ as he addressed MPs this afternoon. 

It came after Scotland Yard Commissioner Sir Mark hit back at criticism of his officers for failing to intervene to arrest extremists.

He blamed ministers for the soft policing of anti-Israel protests after a showdown meeting with Suella Braverman, insisting police were ‘ruthless’ about tackling demonstrators who stepped over the legal line.

He argued that police could only ‘enforce the law’ and it is ‘Parliament’s job’ to write that – suggesting that extremists are get around the existing restrictions on hate speech. 

But facing MPs this afternoon Mr Sunak said officers had the powers they needed to arrest people for inciting racial hatred.

 ‘We have seen hate on our streets again this weekend. We all stand in solidarity with the Palestinian people. That is the message I brought to President Abbas. But we will never tolerate antisemitism in our country,’ he said.

‘Calls for jihad on our streets are not only a threat to the Jewish community but to our democratic values and we expect the police to take all necessary action to tackle extremism head on.’

The Prime Minister warned that the chanting at events in London at the weekend was a ‘threat’ to British Jews and the country’s ‘democratic values’ as he addressed MPs this afternoon.

In a demonstration outside the Egyptian Embassy in London on Saturday members of the extremist group Hazib ut-Tahrir were filmed shouting ‘jihad’ 

Later, in reply to a question about the protest marches from Tory MP Andrew Percy, the PM added: ‘Of course the police are operationally independent but the Home Secretary has a role in holding police forces to account and as members will know she has raised this matter with the Met Police Commissioner at their meeting earlier today. 

‘Anyone who commits a crime, whether that be inciting racial hatred, glorifying terrorism or violating public order, should expect to face the full force of the law.’

Sir Mark said he believed Ms Braverman was looking at whether legislation needed to be toughened up – something that has been backed by Keir Starmer. Some 34 arrests have been made and the force is trying to track another 22 suspects from images. 

However, Downing Street insisted that officers already have enough powers to deal with such situations, suggesting they need to ‘deployed’.

Around 100,000 people attended a rally on Whitehall on Saturday, where protesters scaled buildings and shouted ‘From the river to the sea, Palestine will be free’ – which Ms Braverman has condemned as an ‘anti-Semitic staple’ calling for the ‘destruction of Israel’.

In one demonstration outside the Egyptian embassy, police watched as members of the extremist group Hizb ut-Tahrir – which has been banned in almost all Arab countries – were filmed shouting ‘jihad’ and calling for ‘Muslim armies’ to fight Israel. 

However, the Met insisted the ‘word jihad has a number of meanings’ and it did not believe any offences had been committed.

Sir Mark said his meeting with Ms Braverman was ‘constructive’. ‘We are absolutely ruthless in tackling anybody who puts their foot over the legal line. We’re accountable for the law. We can’t enforce taste or decency, but we can enforce the law,’ he said.

‘The conversation finished really around the line of the law. It’s our job to enforce to that line. It’s Parliament’s job to draw that line. And the thought that maybe events at the moment … maybe some of the lines aren’t quite in the right place.’

Sir Mark went on: ‘The law that we’ve designed around hate crime and terrorism over recent decades hasn’t taken full account of the ability in extremist groups to steer around those laws and propagating the truly toxic messages through social media.

‘Those lines probably need re-drawing.’

A Home Office spokesman said Ms Braverman ‘recognised the complexities of the law in policing aspects of these protests and prosecutor decisions’. 

The group’s leader Luqman Muqeem (pictured) previously said Hamas were ‘heroes’ for killing Israelis and the attack of October 7 had ‘made us all very, very happy’

During a separate demonstration on Saturday, a man was filmed waving an Islamic flag while reportedly shouting: ‘God’s curse be upon the Jews’ and ‘God’s curse upon Israel’ 

One protester on Whitehall held a placard reading ‘I fully support Hamas’ – which was responsible for the deaths of 1,400 Israelis during a wave of cross-border terror attacks

Amid fury at the ‘disturbing’ scenes in London over the weekend, Sir Mark Rowley insisted his officers were ‘ruthless’ about tackling demonstrators who stepped over the legal line

Hizb-ut Tahrir leader, Luqman Muqeem, previously said Hamas terrorists were ‘heroes’ for massacring Israelis and the attacks of October 7 had ‘made us all very, very happy’. 

During the main protest on Whitehall, a man was filmed waving a black and white Islamic flag while reportedly shouting in Arabic: ‘God’s curse be upon the Jews’ and ‘God’s curse upon Israel’. He was arrested for inciting racial hatred. 

Another protester held a placard reading ‘I fully support Hamas’ – which was responsible for the deaths of 1,400 Israelis during a wave of cross-border terror attacks.  

Meanwhile, Transport for London is under pressure to sack a Tube driver who led passengers in anti-Israel chants including ‘From the river to the sea, Palestine will be free’. TfL claims not to know his identity. 

The phrase is a reference to the Jordan River and the Mediterranean, a territory that includes the state of Israel. When it is followed by ‘Palestine will be free’ the chant implies the dismantling of the Jewish state.

A source close to Mrs Braverman said before the meeting that she would be ‘asking Sir Mark for an explanation over the response’ by police to incidents that took place on the same day as the pro-Palestinian protests in the capital. 

The source added: ‘There can be no place for incitement to hatred or violence on Britain’s streets and, as the Home Secretary has made clear, the police are urged to crack down on anyone breaking the law.’

Visiting the Port Talbot steelworks this morning, Sir Keir told broadcasters: ‘There’s been a huge increase in hate crime in the last couple of weeks, tragically. We’ve all got a duty to clamp down on hate crime whatever political party we’re in.

‘Obviously, the police are independent operationally, so these are decisions for them.

‘I think there have already been identified some gaps in the law in a previous review under this Government and I think the Government needs to look at whether there are gaps in the law that need to be addressed as well.’

However, the PM’s official spokesman played down the prospect of beefing up the law.

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‘Some of these scenes will have likely been incredibly distressing for people to witness, not least to the UK’s Jewish community who deserve to feel safe at what must be an incredibly traumatic time,’ he said.

‘We do believe the police have extensive powers in this space and we will continue to discuss with them so there is clarity and agreement about how they can be deployed on the ground.’

Pressed if there are then no plans to give police more powers, he said: ‘I’m not aware of any, no.’

During Saturday’s Hizb ut-Tahrir rally, video shared on social media showed one speaker asking a crowd ‘What is the solution to liberate people from the concentration camp called Palestine?’

To this the crowd chanted ‘jihad! jihad! jihad!’.

A poster held by organisers of the rally read: ‘Muslim Armies! Rescue the People of Palestine.’ 

Robert Jenrick said yesterday that there would be discussions with the Met after the force said it believed no offences had been committed. 

The immigration minister also vowed to kick people who ‘spread hate or support proscribed terrorist organisations like Hamas’ out of the country, suggesting those who held visas could have them revoked.

The Met had said in a statement: ‘The word jihad has a number of meanings but we know the public will most commonly associate it with terrorism. We have specialist counter-terrorism officers here who have particular knowledge in this area.

‘They have assessed this video, filmed at the Hizb ut-Tahrir protest in central London today, and have not identified any offences arising from the specific clip. However, recognising the way language like this will be interpreted by the public and the divisive impact it will have, officers have identified the man involved and will be speaking to him shorty to discourage any repeat of similar chanting.’

Twitter users added a community note under the Met’s tweet which read: ‘The Met Police’s ”What is hate crime?” document states: ”The offence of incitement to hatred occurs when someone acts in a way that is threatening and intended to stir up hatred… Hate content may include: messages calling for violence against a specific person or group”.’ 

There were chants of ‘jihad! jihad! jihad!’ at the Hazib ut-Tahrir rally outside the Egyptian embassy in London on Saturday 

Another speaker was seen saying that ‘the solution is jihad and jihad alone’. The Met Police said it had ‘not identified any offences’ at the event

The Met later tweeted that the word ‘jihad’ had ‘multiple meanings’. Twitter users added a community note under the Met’s post 

Suella Braverman will meet with the Metropolitan Police today to express her frustrations following the incidents on Saturday 

At the same event, the speaker added that the only solution to liberate the people of Palestine was ‘jihad by the armies of the Muslim countries’.

‘Not by you and me, what training do I have? There are people with arms – in Egypt, in Pakistan, in Saudi Arabia, in Jordan, across the Muslim world – and right now they are boiling like we are boiling.’

Another speaker was seen saying ‘the solution is jihad and jihad alone’.

In general terms the word ‘jihad’ is a reference to a Muslim’s obligation to follow and realise God’s will, but it has in recent years been used by extremist Islamic groups to justify violence against people they consider opponents of the religion.

READ MORE – Labour in chaos as 23 councillors resign over Keir Starmer’s stance on Israel

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The group holding the demonstration Hizb ut-Tahrir is an Islamist fundamentalist group that has called for the re-establishment of a caliphate and for the global implementation of sharia law. 

It has been banned in almost all Arab countries, as well as Muslim-majority nations such as Turkey, Bangladesh and Indonesia.

Former prime ministers David Cameron and Tony Blair both tried to ban the extremist group which had pledged to ‘wipe out the Zionist entity’ and referred to ‘monstrous Jews’.

The main protest on Saturday saw 100,000 people march down Whitehall calling for a ceasefire. 

The conflict began when terrorist group Hamas massacred 1,400 Israelis on October 7, sparking weeks of air strikes from the Jewish state which have killed more than 4,300 Palestinians – according to the Hamas-run Health Ministry in Gaza.

A handful of placards incorporated the Star of David into its messaging.

The six-pointed shape is a symbol of Judaism and pre-dates the creation of Israel, though it is also used on the national flag.

Its inclusion on placards – where it replaced the ‘a’ in the message ‘There is blood on your hands’ – was widely interpreted as further evidence of anti-Jewish sentiment.

Video circulating online appears to show the Central Line driver leading a chant of ‘Free, free Palestine’ for the hundreds of people packed tightly into busy train

Those on the Tube train could be seen joining in with the driver’s chants on their way to the solidarity march

Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Rishi Sunak – Britain’s first Hindu PM – were depicted with tiny moustaches on a handful of placards. 

The obvious inference is that they were being compared with Hitler. 

READ MORE – Battle to eliminate Hamas could take three months, IDF warns 

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One man wearing a grey hoodie and waving a black and white Islamic flag held up a megaphone to his mouth and appeared to be bellowing ‘Hamas’. 

The man chanted in Arabic ‘God’s curse be upon the Jews’ and ‘God’s curse upon Israel’, according to the Telegraph. 

The Met yesterday said that it had arrested the protester. They posted a photo of him on Twitter, writing: ‘Yesterday this man was filmed shouting racist abuse in Whitehall. Tonight he is in custody having been arrested on suspicion of inciting racial hatred.’

But critics said the Met’s actions could have come sooner, with some labelling it ‘outrageous’ that officers did not intervene in the event. 

The same protester was seen carrying a black and white Islamic flag. This was also seen being waved by other demonstrators. 

The Met replied to claims it was an ‘ISIS flag’ by saying it was a banner showing the ‘shahada’, or the Islamic declaration of faith.

Prof Peter Neumann, from the Department of War Studies at King’s College London, later told the Telegraph: ‘It’s the Islamic proclamation of faith against a black background. This is often used by jihadists, but not exclusively so.’ 

The Met replied to claims of ‘ISIS flags’ being waved at the protest by by saying they were actually banners containing the ‘shahada’, or the Islamic declaration of faith. Prof Peter Neumann, from the Department of War Studies at King’s College London, later told the Telegraph: ‘It’s the Islamic proclamation of faith against a black background. This is often used by jihadists, but not exclusively so’

Protesters during a pro-Palestine march organised by Stop the War Coalition and Palestine Solidarity Campaign in central London on Saturday

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