Police conduct two probes into anti-Israel rally
POLICE ARE investigating remarks made by an organiser of the anti-Israel Al Quds Day rally — including the claims that “Zionists” were responsible for the Grenfell fire — as a possible hate crime.
Officers from the Metropolitan Police will review comments made by Nazim Ali — director of the self-styled “advocacy group” the Islamic Human Rights Commission (IHRC) that organised the event — as he led the march speaking through a public address system, along the capital’s streets.
Police also confirmed they are conducting a second probe into whether the display of flags of the banned Hezbollah terror group at the march contravened UK terror laws.
Around 700 supporters attended the controversial rally, which saw men, women and many children wave the Hezbollah flag, with its machine-gun logo, along with banners bearing the words “We Are All Hizbollah” and the website address for the IHRC.
A Scotland Yard spokesman stated on Wednesday: “We can confirm that we have received two allegations in relation to the Al Quds march on Sunday 18 June. The allegations relate to flags displayed during the march and alleged antisemitic comments. Detectives from Westminster CID are investigating.”
Meanwhile, a spokeswoman for the Charity Commission revealed that it was investigating an online advert from the IHRC which suggested the organisation was a registered charity.
The spokeswoman said: “We are assessing the content of an advert which states that the Islamic Human Rights Commission (IHRC UK) is a registered charity. The Islamic Human Rights Commission is not a charity, and therefore does not fall within the regulatory remit of the Charity Commission. We have contacted the IHRC to ask for its response to the content of the advert.
“The Islamic Human Rights Commission Trust (charity number 1106120) is a separate legal entity from the IHRC, and is registered with and regulated by the Commission. We have an active case into the Islamic Human Rights Commission Trust which already includes examining their relationship with the IHRC. This case was opened before concerns were raised with us regarding the march on 18 June 2017.
“The Commission expects the trustees to carefully consider, and take action to mitigate, the potential reputational risks to their charity which could arise from links and associations with other organisations.”
The JC has learned of at least one organisation that lodged a complaint with the police over alleged hate crimes relating to remarks made by Nazim Ali in front of his 700 frenzied supporters at last Sunday’s event.
Ali, 48, kept up a series of antisemitic rants from his position at the head of the march, as it proceeded from Broadcasting House in Portland Place to Grosvenor Square.
Referring to the tragic Grenfell Tower fire, he told the crowd: “As we know in Grenfell, many innocents were murdered by Theresa May’s cronies, many of which are supporters of Zionist ideology.
“Let us not forget that some of the biggest corporations who were supporting the Conservative Party are Zionists.
“They are responsible for the murder of the people in Grenfell, in those towers in Grenfell, the Zionist supporters of the Tory Party.” Demonstrators — many of whom held aloft banners stating: “We are all Hizbollah” and “Zionism is Racism”— cheered loudly.
As dozens of police officers stood by, Ali continued: “These people wouldn’t know what justice is, because it’s their supporters who are supporting the Tory party, that’s who they are.
“It’s the Zionists who give the money to the Zionists, it is the Zionists who give money to the Tory party, to kill people in high-rise blocks. Free Free Palestine…”
The JC asked one police officer who heard the remark why no action was being taken against Ali. The officer replied: “It’s just an opinion.”
The Al Quds Day march — which was initated in Iran in 1979 — is held every year to demand the restoration of Quds — Jerusalem — as an Islamic capital.
A low point this year came as Ali spotted 30 counterprotesters walking ahead of the march holding Israeli flags.
Calling for a sitdown protest until they were removed, Ali declared to the crowd: ”We are fed up of the Zionists. We are fed up of their rabbis. We are fed up of their synagogues. We are fed up of their supporters.”
He later added: “Careful of those rabbis who belong to the Board of Deputies who have got blood on their hands, who agree with the killing of British soldiers — do not allow them in your centres.” In classic conspiracy theory terms, Ali said: “The BBC never report on the killings of innocent men, women and children. The Zionists are known to go to dinner with heads of the BBC to make sure there is no unnecessary exposure on the innocent victims of Zionist terrorism.” The pro-Israeli counter-demonstrators were moved on by police, with Ali claiming: “They are not happy just occupying Palestine. They’re trying to occupy Regent Street. It’s in their genes.” Chants from the crowd included the now familiar slogan “From the river to the sea. Palestine will be free”.There was also a frequent rendition of: “Zionists/Isis are the same. Only difference is the name”. In full view of police officers, some of whom were taking video footage, were the hundreds of Hezbollah flags. Some of those brandishing the flags placed smaller white stickers on them claiming they wanted to show allegiance to the political rather than military wing of the organisation. A much larger Hezbollah flag flew at the front of the demo, beneath a Palestinian banner daubed with the words: “Boycott Israel”. Whipping up his supporters into a further frenzy, Ali called for Israel’s annihilation, accusing the Israel Defence Force of being a “terrorist organisation that murdered Palestinians, Jews and British soldiers.” Screaming into a microphone, Ali led the crowd in a chant of: “The state of Israel must go. Judaism, yes. Zionism, no. The state of Israel must go.” At one stage, Ali walked towards a small group of pro-Israeli demonstrators and began singing: “Bye, bye Zionists”.
He turned to the large police presence and said: “I am requesting that the police watch those trouble-makers over there. They will try to incite. That’s what they are good at, causing violence. Do not react to the killers of British soldiers.”
He also drew attention to the presence of a handful of members of the Jewish anti-Israel Neturei Karta group, praising them as being “true” Jews:
“Because these rabbis don’t kill people, because these rabbis don’t murder people, they are told they are traitors. Because Zionism is a fascist, evil ideology. It is an evil ideology to its core — that’s what Zionism is. That is why they killed British soldiers in order to get their country.” During the march, Ali also claimed “Zionists” were supporters of Isis.
He said: “The Israel Intelligence Service is also known as Isis. They are part of the same organisation. Isis are being treated in their hospitals. Isis are being supported in the occupied Golan. Everyone knows that Zionist Israel and Isis are the same. They are brothers in arms.”
The march reached its end point near the US Embassy, where a group of 300 Israel supporters were staging a counterdemonstration organised by the Zionist Federation. Police kept the two sides apart and there were no arrests.
Nazim Ali, who is the managing partner of the Chelsea Pharmacy Medical Clinic in south-west London and a parttime comedian, has been listed as a director of the IHRC since 2003.
The IHRC Trust states that its mission is to “work with different organisations from Muslim and non-Muslim backgrounds, to campaign for justice for all peoples regardless of their racial, confessional or political background.”
The group has repeatedly called for the repeal of much UK terror legislation.
Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn had spoken at the event in 2012, but had “no plan” to attend this year’s event.
Lord Polak, Conservative Friends of Israel’s honorary president, Hendon MP Matthew Offord and others wrote to Home Secretary Amber Rudd on Monday to express concern over the Hezbollah flags at the march and called on the Metropolitan Police to charge those found in “direct contravention” of Section 13 of the Terrorism Act (2000). Labour MP Louise Ellman, vice-chair of Labour Friends of Israel, has also written to Ms Rudd and Sadiq Khan, Mayor of London, expressing “deep concern” over the Hezbollah flags.
Mark Gardner, the Community Security Trust director of communications said: “The drawing together of the Grenfell Tower disaster, Zionists and Theresa May is a profound example of modern-day antisemitism, worsened by the mentions of rabbis and synagogues: because it is Jews who have rabbis and synagogues, not Zionists.
“Such incitement can only sow division, anger and hatred between communities at a time when social cohesion in London and across the UK has seldom, if ever, been more important.”
Ahead of the march, there were calls from community groups and politicians for the event to be banned.
Mayor of London Sadiq Khan said he had discussed issues of policing with the Metropolitan Police but said he did not have the power to cancel the rally.
Adam Wagner, a leading human rights barrister, said he believed the decision not to ban it was correct: “Banning marches has all sorts of consequences. The people organising them won’t just go away. They will organise things under a different name. You don’t want these things to go underground.”
The flag of banned terrorist group Hezbollah on display at the Al Quds Day rally