British Muslim Organization Encourages Supporters to Carry Hezbollah Flags at ‘Al Quds’ Day March in London
Less than two weeks after a devastating Islamist terrorist attack in London that took the lives of eight people, a prominent British Muslim organization is encouraging its supporters to carry Hezbollah flags at an anti-Israel demonstration in the British capital this Sunday, June 18.
The Islamic Human Rights Commission (IHRC) — which retains close ties with the Iranian regime — said that flags of organizations banned in the UK for terrorism would not be permitted at its annual “Al-Quds” (Jerusalem) Day march. But, it added in a website advisory, “you can bring a Hizbullah flag to show support for the political wing of Hizbullah. This is because the political wing of Hizbullah is not a proscribed organisation.”
Hezbollah uses only one flag, which contains the image of an assault rifle at its center and an Arabic inscription that reads, “The Party of Allah Shall Be Triumphant — The Islamic Resistance in Lebanon.”
Hezbollah — an Iranian Shiite proxy terrorist group that operates out of Lebanon and has sent thousands of fighters to Syria and Iraq – was proscribed by the former Labour government in the UK in 2008. At the time, the British Home Office described the decision as “a clear message that we condemn Hezbollah’s violence and support for terrorism.” However, the order was not extended to Hezbollah’s so-called “political and social activities.”
Hezbollah itself does not recognize the distinction between its “military” and “political” wings that prevails in the UK and in much of the European Union. In 2013, its leader, Hassan Nasrallah, ridiculed the idea of two distinct wings in a Beirut speech, telling his audience sarcastically, “I will propose the appointment of members of the party’s military wing in the prospective government.”
Hezbollah’s involvement with international terrorism — closely coordinated with its Iranian paymasters — stretches back to at least October 1983, when the organization bombed the US Marines barracks in Beirut, slaughtering 241 American military personnel.
Hezbollah also carried out the March 1992 bombing of the Israeli Embassy in Buenos Aires, in which 29 people were killed. In July 1994, Hezbollah operatives drove a truck filled with gasoline fuel into the AMIA Jewish center in the Argentine capital, killing 85 people in what still ranks as the worst act of antisemitic terror since the Second World War.
More recently, thousands of Hezbollah fighters have been serving in Syria as part of Iranian and Russian efforts to stabilize the regime of President Bashar al-Assad. Mounting evidence of war crimes in Syria committed by Hezbollah units, including mass rapes of women, has been gathered by Syrian human rights activists. Hezbollah remains a serious threat to Israel as well, with over 100,000 missiles aimed at the Jewish state.
British Jews — backed by the UK Board of Deputies, the Zionist Federation and the Jewish Leadership Council — have been gathering signatures on a petition, organized by North West Friends of Israel, to London Mayor Sadiq Khan urging him to ban Sunday’s march. A spokesman for the Community Security Trust, which coordinates security for UK Jewish institutions, told the Jewish Chronicle, “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.”
“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,” the CST spokesman noted.
On Friday afternoon, Khan responded to the petition by clarifying that “The Mayor does not have the power to ban a march in London.”
Khan said that his office had ensured that the Metropolitan Police “fully appreciates the potential impact of this march on London’s communities and is monitoring the situation closely.”
“As ever, there will be a zero-tolerance approach to hate crime, including antisemitism,” Khan said.
Al-Quds Day was initiated by the late Iranian leader Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini in 1979 following the Islamist seizure of power during the revolution that same year. A recent Anti-Defamation League (ADL) briefing on the annual event noted that its observation in Iran is “marked by a hateful demonstration of anti-Israel and anti-Semitic sentiment, manifest in government organized rallies and other activities.”
“Before Al Quds Day in 2016, Iran’s leadership rallied the country,” the ADL briefing reported. “Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei called its commemoration and support for the oppressed Palestinians an important religious duty.”
The IHRC’s march in London usually takes place on the weekend after Al Quds Day, which falls on the last Friday of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan. Past speakers at the IHRC’s rallies have included current Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn, who addressed a crowd when still a backbench parliamentarian in 2012 and was photographed smiling alongside a Hezbollah flag. At the end of his speech, Corbyn called for the UK to impose an arms embargo on Israel.
A spokesman for Corbyn’s office said the Labour leader had “no plans” to attend this Sunday’s march, which will culminate outside the US embassy in central London.
Meanwhile, hundreds of protesters mobilized by Jewish organizations are expected to hold a counterrally nearby under the banner “Stand Against Hate.”