UK au­thor­i­ties to pros­e­cute Hezbol­lah flag wa­vers at on­line ral­lies

The National - News - - FRONT PAGE - THOMAS HARD­ING London

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

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