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July 8, 2016 4:17 am

UK Lawmakers Call for Ban of Hezbollah Following Public Outcry Over Displays of Terror Group’s Flags During ‘Al-Quds Day’ Rallies

avatar by Lea Speyer

MP Matthew Offord addressing the pro-Israel counter-demonstration at the 2016 London Al-Quds Day rally. Photo: Steve Winston.

MP Matthew Offord addressing the pro-Israel counter-demonstration at the 2016 London Al-Quds Day rally. Photo: Steve Winston.

After Hezbollah flags were waved during recent anti-Israel rallies in Britain, two lawmakers are calling for an outright ban of the Lebanese terror group, the Jewish Chronicle reported on Thursday.

In the UK, only Hezbollah’s military branch — which shares the same flag as its political branch — is classified as a terrorist organization. Leader of the House of Commons Chris Grayling announced he would be taking up the issue with Home Secretary Theresa May, after the matter was raised by MP Matthew Offord, who pledged to the pro-Israel community to address the issue in parliament.

“The European Union, including the UK, recognizes the difference between the military and political wings of Hezbollah, but such a distinction does not appear to be recognized by the organization itself,” Offord told lawmakers.

“Therefore in the light of the confusion about the legality of demonstrators displaying Hezbollah flags on the streets of London last Sunday, can we have a statement on the legality of the display of Hezbollah flags?” he asked.

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In response, Grayling said, “I agree with my honorable friend. If an organization is proscribed in the UK, it should not be able to publicize itself in the UK whether through flags, or placards, or anything else.”

“I will make sure the Home Secretary is aware of the concerns he’s raised. If an organization is illegal in the UK it should not manifest itself in the UK,” Grayling added.  

Offord and Grayling’s move comes after anti-Israel demonstrators were allowed to fly the flag of the Lebanese terror group — despite complaints to police — during an “Al-Quds Day” march in London on Sunday.

As reported by The Algemeiner, the annual march has emerged as a festival of incitement against Israel. In previous years, the flags of Hezbollah, Hamas and ISIS have been flown, with rally organizers failing to issue condemnations of open displays of support for terror.

This year, the pro-Israel community in the UK rallied together to counter-demonstrate the march for the first time.

Simon Cobbs, co-chair of Israel advocacy group Sussex Friends of Israel — one of three main sponsors of Sunday’s counter-demonstration — told The Algemeiner  that numerous sources who infiltrated the march said rally organizers sent children, some wrapped in Hezbollah flags, and members of the marginal haredi (ultra-Orthodox) anti-Zionist group Neturei Karta to the head of the procession, seemingly to provoke pro-Israel counter-demonstrators. “Highly offensive” anti-Israel placards — such as “Dismantling of Zionist State = End Of Bloodshed” — were waved by protesters, he said.

Present at the demonstration was Offord, who, following the Al-Quds Day rally, wrote a letter to the assistant commissioner at the Metropolitan Police voicing his objections to the flying of the Hezbollah flag, which, he wrote, is “contrary to the Section 13 of the Terrorism Act (2000).”

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