UK authorities to prosecute Hezbollah flag wavers at online rallies
The British government said it will prosecute protesters who break the law and display Hezbollah flags during online demonstrations.
In a change of policy in response to the coronavirus outbreak, the Home Office announced in a statement to The National the move to observe protests on Zoom and other online platforms.
Last year Sajid Javid, the former home secretary, designated the entire Hezbollah group as a terrorist organisation after its flags were flown at protests in London. Reports at the time cited specifically the Trafalgar Square protest, at which the flag, emblazoned with a Kalashnikov rifle, was flown.
Showing support for Hezbollah in the UK carries a maximum sentence of 10 years in jail.
The Al Quds Day event, a pro-Palestinian protest, on Friday will take place on the internet. The department said it would focus on online protests that have been encouraged by organisers.
Whitehall officials said an adjustment in Home Office policy made clear that if online protests break the law, “prosecutions will follow”.
The Home Office said: “There is no place for hatred in our society. While peaceful protest is a vital part of any democracy, if protests break the law or incite hatred, whether they are online or in public, there should be no doubt the police will take action.”
The online protest is being organised by the Islamic Human Rights Commission. It has encouraged people to wave Palestinian flags but has not asked attendees to avoid using the Hezbollah banner.
Al Quds Day rallies in Iran, where US and Israeli flags are regularly burnt in support of Hezbollah, have been called off owing to the virus.
Hezbollah supporters in Marjayoun, Lebanon