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Cabinet minister Oliver Dowden says it is ‘totally unacceptable’ for police to pull down posters of Israelis kidnapped by Hamas terrorists after officers in London and Manchester sparked backlash


Cabinet minister Oliver Dowden has hit out at footage of police officers in London and Manchester pulling down posters of Israelis kidnapped by Hamas – calling the practice ‘totally unacceptable’.

The Deputy Prime Minister spoke after videos emerged of the officers tearing down the distinctive red and white posters – each of which bears a photo and name of an Israeli said to have been kidnapped by the terror group.

Greater Manchester Police says it is investigating an incident in which a lone officer was allegedly seen tearing posters down in Prestwich.

The Metropolitan Police, meanwhile, has defended actions taken by its officers to remove posters put up outside a pharmacy at the centre of a social media storm after one of its employees shared posts calling Israel ‘filthy animals’. 

Speaking to LBC on Wednesday, Mr Dowden said tearing down the posters was counter to raising awareness of the kidnap victims – saying it was ‘right’ for the flyers to draw attention to the suffering of Israelis at the hands of Hamas.

Mr Dowden - seen speaking on Sky News this morning - told LBC that it is 'totally unacceptable' for police officers to tear down posters of missing Israelis

Mr Dowden – seen speaking on Sky News this morning – told LBC that it is ‘totally unacceptable’ for police officers to tear down posters of missing Israelis

Footage showed a police officer, believed to be part of the Greater Manchester Police force, tearing down posters of those Israelis held hostage after being kidnapped by Hamas

Footage showed a police officer, believed to be part of the Greater Manchester Police force, tearing down posters of those Israelis held hostage after being kidnapped by Hamas 

The lone Greater Manchester Police officer seems to ignore questions from distressed passers by

He removes the fliers and appears to take them to his police van

The lone officer is seen removing a line of posters while seemingly ignoring calls from passers-by on Bury Road in Prestwich

The distinctive red and white posters have been released as part of an activist campaign to draw attention to Israelis kidnapped by Hamas. A woman is seen here holding one of the posters in a protest outside the Qatari embassy in London on Sunday

The distinctive red and white posters have been released as part of an activist campaign to draw attention to Israelis kidnapped by Hamas. A woman is seen here holding one of the posters in a protest outside the Qatari embassy in London on Sunday

Responding to the clips on Wednesday, he told the radio station: ‘Clearly … if that is the case, it is totally unacceptable.

‘These families are going through so much hurt, over 200 innocent people are being held in Gaza.

‘It is right that they should draw the world’s attention to their appalling suffering and those posters should not be being pulled down, full stop.’

Mr Dowden, also speaking to Sky News this morning, added that he believes Israel is continuing to comply with international law as it ramps up its ground assault in Gaza in its fight against Hamas.

He said: ‘Hamas is a terrorist organisation that has murdered in cold blood over 1,000 innocent Israeli men, women and children, and now seeks to hide amongst the civilian population. This is a very difficult conflict.

‘We continue to urge the Israeli government to abide by international law. I believe that the Israeli government is continuing to do so against an enemy that hides among civilians.

‘It is the terrible nature of this appalling conflict.’

Police in Manchester have launched an investigation after one of their officers was seen tearing down posters of Israeli hostages, saying it ‘regrets any offence caused’.

Footage shared online showed the lone officer tearing down fliers of those kidnapped by Hamas on October 7,  seemingly ignoring calls from distressed passers by, questioning what they are doing.

One woman is heard shouting ‘Why is the police taking this down? Excuse me, excuse me, excuse me’, receiving no response while walking down Bury Road in Prestwich.

Nick Buckley, hoping to stand for Mayor of Greater Manchester next year, said: ‘We need an answer from GMP police immediately. I hope they have a good response – I can’t think of one but please prove me wrong.’

Another wrote on X: ‘They should be policing not taking down posters of kidnapped children, for whatever reason, obviously direction from seniors, it doesn’t look good nor is it professional.’ 

The force has now confirmed an investigation is underway and will work to ensure posters can continue to be displayed. 

GMP Assistant Chief Constable Wasim Chaudhry told MailOnline: ‘We know the ongoing conflict in the Middle East is causing great distress to members of Greater Manchester’s Jewish community and our thoughts remain with them at this time. 

‘We share concerns raised regarding the removal of posters in the North Manchester area and can confirm that an investigation is underway. 

‘The action taken last night, in response to complaints, is contrary to guidance that the force had already issued to staff in relation to flyposting. 

‘We will continue to work with local authorities and the community to ensure posters can be displayed. We regret any offence caused.’

Fury has erupted in north London after Met Police officers pulled down posters of kidnapped Israeli children to avoid inflaming tensions

Fury has erupted in north London after Met Police officers pulled down posters of kidnapped Israeli children to avoid inflaming tensions

Video widely-shared to social media showed two officers standing outside Cullimore Chemist in Edgware, flyers showing the innocent missing civilians off the outside of the building

Video widely-shared to social media showed two officers standing outside Cullimore Chemist in Edgware, flyers showing the innocent missing civilians off the outside of the building 

Residents of the local area, home to a sizeable Jewish community, were quick to react to the video, slamming the actions of the officers 'disgusting'

Residents of the local area, home to a sizeable Jewish community, were quick to react to the video, slamming the actions of the officers ‘disgusting’

North Tyneside Council has also been slammed for removing a long-standing Palestine mural at a train station, which was painted by children in 2012

North Tyneside Council has also been slammed for removing a long-standing Palestine mural at a train station, which was painted by children in 2012

Two North Tyneside artists - Faye Oliver and Anthony Downie - helped create the mural

Two North Tyneside artists – Faye Oliver and Anthony Downie – helped create the mural 

Earlier this week, two Met Police officers were seen tearing down fliers, revealing those who were taken from Israel during Hamas barbaric October 7 attack, outside of Cullimore Chemist in Edgware, North London.

Some locals in the area, which is home to a sizeable Jewish community, have slammed the officers over their ‘disgusting actions’. But the Met has insisted they were merely taking steps to ‘stop issues escalating’ and to ‘avoid community tension’. 

In a statement, the force said that the missing posters were hung in ‘retaliation’ for comments about the Israel-Hamas war – including branding Israel and the IDF as ‘filthy animals’ – that were posted online by an alleged member of the chemist’s staff. Police said a printout of the remarks was also hung outside the shop.

Images on X, formerly Twitter, show the chemist’s CEO Hassan Khan retweeting posts by an apparent colleague branding Israel and the IDF as ‘filthy animals’ and calling for Israel’s enemies Iran and Hezbollah to get involved in the conflict. 

The account appears to have since been deleted, and Mr Khan later issued a statement apologising on behalf of the company.

Taking to Facebook, he claimed that the posts, shared from an account with his name on social media, were posted by a ‘former employee’. 

He wrote: ‘We have recently been made aware of certain posts shared on social media by a former employee. 

‘We want to unequivocally express that these views and statements do not reflect the ethos, beliefs, or values of our company.

‘We deeply regret the distress or confusion these posts may have caused. We had provided a strict content plan to the employee but they decided to take matters into their own hands and share content that was out of the scope of their job.

‘At Cullimore Chemist we have always maintained an impartial stance on all social, economic, and political matters worldwide. We believe in fostering a culture of respect, inclusivity, and understanding. Our team consists of individuals from diverse backgrounds, and we take immense pride in the rich blend of experiences and perspectives they bring to our organisation.

‘We sincerely apologise to anyone who felt hurt or misrepresented by the aforementioned posts. We will be revisiting our internal guidelines and training processes to ensure that such incidents like this do not recur in the future.’

But locals and activists alike are now criticising the Met after photographs surfaced of officers removing posters of missing hostages from the chemist’s storefront.

Social media retweets from Cullimore Chemist CEO Hassan Khan sparked anger - and a later apology from the pharmacy boss

Social media retweets from Cullimore Chemist CEO Hassan Khan sparked anger – and a later apology from the pharmacy boss

Adam Ma’anit, whose cousin is among those missing, said he feels a ‘wave of despair’ whenever he sees people tearing down the posters.

Mr Ma’anit argued that ‘there is no hate on the posters’ and that they are only being used to ‘highlight the plight of the hostages’ who were taken during the October 7 attack.

‘We want to remind people that children, elderly, disabled, even babies are being held hostage by Hamas,’ he told The Independent

‘Those who tear the posters down, are silencing one of the only ways we’ve been able to keep their plight fresh in the minds of people. They are silencing our suffering and pain. For the police to be party to that is deeply distressing.’

He also argued that if there was a ‘legitimate reason’ to remove the posters, it should fall under the jurisdiction of the shop owner or local council, not the police force.

‘Police don’t personally clean up graffiti and concert posters when those are put up on private property. Why should they be doing that for this?’ questioned Mr Ma’anit.

The Campaign Against Antisemitism also accused the Met of a ‘double standard’ by ‘turning a blind eye to extremists’ in pulling down the posters. 

A spokesperson told MailOnline: ‘The very same day that central London again became a no-go zone for Jews, how is it that the Met Police thinks tearing down posters of abducted children while allowing people to call for ”Jihad” and ”Intifada” is the right approach to easing communal tensions?’

‘This is not the first time in this period that the police have gone after images of children taken captive by Hamas while turning a blind eye to extremists with barely disguised sympathy for terrorism. It is hard not to see a double standard at play here.’

A Met Police spokesperson said: ‘We recognise why people are concerned about this photo and want an explanation. Below is what we know about what led to the officers doing what they did.

‘The posters were put up late on Saturday night. We received at least two calls about it from local residents.

‘Both people who reported the posters to us were concerned that it would escalate an already tense situation. Officers went to the shop and acting in good faith they removed the posters in an effort to prevent any such escalation.

‘The removal of these posters elsewhere in London has caused anger and upset in recent weeks. We know a photo of our officers doing the same will cause further concern, particularly for anyone not aware of the full facts reported to us at the time.

‘We have no wish to limit the rights of anyone to protest or to raise awareness of the plight of those kidnapped and the terrible impact on their families.

‘But we do have a responsibility to take reasonable steps to stop issues escalating and to avoid any further increase in community tension. On this occasion, that is what officers were trying to do.’

Investigators are in contact with local partners, community representatives and people directly involved in incident. Officers are also ‘listening to and reflecting on any concerns raised with us’. 

‘We are also assessing the content of the comments made on social media to identify any potential offences,’ the statement added. 

Local residents were left furious with the posts and removal of posters, with many calling to boycott the business.

One wrote: ‘To think of the Jewish community who flocked to this Cullimore Chemist during the pandemic. Boycott Cullimore Chemist. Please take your business elsewhere’, another wrote. 

Another said: ‘Name and shame. The owner of Cullimore chemist in Edgware posting anti semitic material. This our police response to a few kidnapped posters of babies. If only there was a law that could have been used last Saturday.’

Footage from Saturday's pro-Gaza protests appeared to show protesters 'bouncing' effigies of dead babies on a Palestinian flag

Footage from Saturday’s pro-Gaza protests appeared to show protesters ‘bouncing’ effigies of dead babies on a Palestinian flag

Another picture taken from the demonstrations yesterday showed a coffin being drawn along by a bike

Another picture taken from the demonstrations yesterday showed a coffin being drawn along by a bike

Meanwhile, North Tyneside Council has been slammed for removing a long-standing Palestine mural at a train station, which was painted by children in 2012.

The mural, at Tynemouth Station, North Tyneside in Tyne and Wear, was created as part of the Shatila Street Art Project in which 10 children and three teachers from the Shatila refugee camp in Beirut, Lebanon, visited the area for spray-painting lessons.

Two North Tyneside artists – Faye Oliver and Anthony Downie – helped create the mural.

On the visit to North Tyneside, the children had sketching sessions in a Whitley Bay shop in the town centre and learned spray painting techniques at Linskill Centre with the two street artists, where they produced large murals on boards.

One of these bright murals was mounted on the wall at the local train station, but the North Tyneside Council has now removed the painting because of threats it would be defaced.

After users of the train station noticed the removal, they took to social media to express their dismay and disappointment.

One user posted: ‘Just noticed that this peace mural spray painted by young Palestinian refugees from Beirut has been removed from Tynemouth Metro Station. It has been here over a decade.’

However, others said they supported the removal, claiming it was ‘antisemitic graffiti’ due to the blood-stained octopus – a symbol commonly used in propaganda. Other social media users said the removal was ‘shocking’, ‘awful’ and ‘sad’.

In response, the council posted on X: ‘It has been removed and stored safely, after we received a threat that it was going to be damaged. 

‘We spoke to the original artist and communities impacted who acknowledged this decision.’

It comes as the Met is facing pressure for failing to clampdown on extremism at pro-Palestine protests on the streets of London. 

Last weekend, protesters were seen carrying effigies of dead babies, and earlier this month extremists led a rally calling for ‘jihad’.

Saturday’s demonstrations marked the third week in a row that the capital has been consumed by the Middle East protests and was marred by several shocking incidents. 

In full view of police officers, protesters chanted for the massacre of Jews, bounced effigies of dead babies on flags and called for ‘global intifadas.’ 

Police made nine arrests in total following the protest, with authorities saying  ‘a number’ of these were being treated as linked to hate crimes. 

Anger had already erupted last night after a video emerged showing a woman taking part in the pro-Palestine march through London holding an effigy of a dead baby and shouting ‘Slaughter the Jews’.

A huge swell of pro-Palestine protesters took to the streets of London on Saturday

A huge swell of pro-Palestine protesters took to the streets of London on Saturday

The majority of protesters, who waved flags and carried banners, were peaceful in calling for a ceasefire between Israel and Hamas

The majority of protesters, who waved flags and carried banners, were peaceful in calling for a ceasefire between Israel and Hamas

The Met deployed more than 1,000 police officers to monitor the protests in central London

The Met deployed more than 1,000 police officers to monitor the protests in central London

Nine people were arrested during the marches, with police saying some of the arrests were in connection with alleged hate crimes

Nine people were arrested during the marches, with police saying some of the arrests were in connection with alleged hate crimes

Police are appealing for information to identify her and a second woman, who both led the chant in full view of dozens of onlookers. 

In other shocking videos posted online, protesters can be seen bouncing effigies of dead babies up and down on a Palestinian flag while chanting. 

Another picture taken from the demonstrations yesterday showed a coffin being drawn along by a bike. 

The coffin had a message on it that reads: ‘Warsaw Ghetto Genocide – 1943. Gaza Ghetto Genocide 2023.’ 

In another shocking clip, a collection of young people from the Socialist Workers Party can be seen chanting ‘From London to Gaza. Globalise the intifada.’ 

In reaction to this weekend’s shocking incidents, a spokesperson for Campaign Against Antisemitism said: ‘Law-abiding Londoners, including London’s Jews, expect our police to enforce Britain’s laws and keep us safe.

‘Instead of imposing strict conditions under section 12 of the Public Order Act, the Met has opted for the most permissive conditions, limiting only the route of the march, yet again allowing central London to be transformed into a no-go zone.

‘The Met is creating the conditions in which not only London’s Jews but all Londoners could be placed in serious danger. 

‘Extremists rarely limit themselves to extreme language. We need action by the authorities responsible for keeping Britain safe.’

The Met’s lack of action was also backed up by ex-Met detective Peter Bleksley who criticised his former force, telling the Sun: ‘This is sick behaviour. The Met said they would crackdown on this sort of thing and quite simply they haven’t. It’s appalling.’

The women appeared to be chanting ‘Khaibar Ya Yahud’, a chant telling Jews to remember an ancient massacre in Khaibar hundreds of years ago in which an entire Jewish settlement was slaughtered.

Meaning ‘Jews, remember Khaibar’, it is now generally seen as a call to kill Jewish people. The Met Police have previously arrested people for similar chants which they say can incite violence.

Releasing a photo of the two women on Saturday night, a spokesperson for the Metropolitan Police said: ‘Officers investigating a hate crime incident in Trafalgar Square would like to speak to these two women. 

‘Anyone who can help us identify them should call 101, giving the reference 6576920/23.’

The Met Police said more than 1,000 officers policed protests in London on Saturday which saw more than 100,000 people throng the streets in solidarity with Palestinians trapped in Gaza. 

The march was overwhelmingly peaceful, but several isolated incidents marred the nature of the protests, which were aimed at calling for a ceasefire between Israel and the terror group Hamas to protect civilian life.

More than 1,400 Israelis were killed and more than 200 kidnapped when Hamas launched a surprise incursion into Israeli territory on October 7. 

Israel has launched a campaign of bombing in response which health officials in Gaza say has so far killed more than 7,700 people, with IDF forces ramping up ground activities with raids in northern Gaza in recent days.



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