Suella Braverman will today demand an explanation from police after they stood by as pro-Palestine demonstrators called for a ‘jihad’ against Israel.
Ministers reacted angrily after the police said no laws were broken at an event on Saturday where protesters in central London called for ‘Muslim armies’ to launch a jihad to ‘liberate Palestine‘. According to one report, up to 15 officers stood by and watched.
Immigration minister Robert Jenrick yesterday said the hate-filled chants amounted to ‘inciting terrorist violence’ and should have resulted in arrests.
A source close to Mrs Braverman said she would be ‘asking Sir Mark for an explanation over the response’ by police to incidents that took place during protests by 100,000 pro-Palestine demonstrators in the capital.
Suella Braverman (pictured) will today demand an explanation from police after they stood by as pro-Palestine demonstrators called for a ‘jihad’ against Israel
Ministers reacted angrily after the police said no laws were broken at an event on Saturday where protesters in central London called for ‘Muslim armies’ to launch a jihad to ‘liberate Palestine’ (sign pictured). According to one report, up to 15 officers stood by and watched
The source added: ‘There can be no place for incitement to hatred or violence on Britain’s streets and, as the Home Secretary has made clear, the police are urged to crack down on anyone breaking the law.’
Mr Jenrick hit out at the police for their softly-softly approach, which comes against the backdrop of a sharp rise in anti-Semitic incidents after Hamas terrorists murdered 1,400 Israelis on October 7.
Israel’s subsequent aerial bombardment of the Gaza homeland ruled by Hamas has triggered a wave of protests across Britain.
In a statement, the Met suggested it was not an offence to call for jihad because the word ‘has a number of meanings’. The force said officers had spoken to one man heard calling for jihad in order to ‘discourage any repeat’.
But Mr Jenrick said arrests should have been made. He acknowledged that policing was ‘an operational matter’ for officers and Crown Prosecution Service, but added: ‘Chanting ‘jihad’ on the streets of London is completely reprehensible and I never want to see scenes like that.
‘It is inciting terrorist violence and it needs to be tackled with the full force of the law.’
Mr Jenrick also took aim at protesters chanting that Palestine should be free ‘from the river to the sea’, saying that it ‘envisages explicitly the erasure of Israel from the map’.
The chant has been widely heard at pro-Palestine demonstrations against Israel’s retaliatory military action in Gaza.
Mr Jenrick said: ‘I don’t think there is any place for that chant on the streets of the UK. That is a highly incendiary chant, which is extremely intimidating to British Jews.
‘I think a lot of people would be surprised by the Metropolitan Police’s analysis of that issue. And that’s something that we’re going to discuss with the police.’
The Home Secretary will confront Metropolitan Police Commissioner Sir Mark Rowley (pictured) over the force’s low-key approach to anti-Israel demonstrators peddling hate on Britain’s streets
The term jihad can refer in Islam to the struggle to lead a good Muslim life or build a good Muslim society.
But it has also been co-opted by terror groups such as al Qaeda to refer to a ‘holy war’ against non-Muslims. Osama bin Laden declared jihad against the ‘Jews and Crusaders’ before the 9/11 attacks on the United States.
One Cabinet minister told the Mail they were ‘shocked’ that those using the term had not been arrested. ‘I’m worried the police are losing the confidence of the public, certainly the Jewish community,’ the minister said.
But one Whitehall source said the police faced a ‘very difficult job’ managing protests against the backdrop of the powder keg in the Middle East – and that halting the kind of behaviour seen at the weekend would require a change in the law.
‘We have got a real problem with the law – it is very difficult to prosecute in this area,’ the source said. ‘To arrest someone for incitement to terrorism they would have to be encouraging a specific act.
‘Chanting ‘jihad for Palestine’ isn’t going to cut it, no matter how inflammatory it seems.
‘Incitement to violence, again, has to be against a specific individual or group. Some very senior ministers do not like it, but you would need a change in the law to stop it.’
The controversy at the weekend centred on a video of a Hizb ut-Tahrir Britain protest showing a man chanting ‘jihad’.
Footage posted on social media shows a man speaking into a microphone in front of a banner reading ‘Muslim Armies! Rescue the People of Palestine’, with the name of the group on it. The main speaker asks: ‘What is the solution to liberate people from the concentration camp called Palestine?’
A man standing to the side of the speaker can then be heard chanting words including ‘jihad’, as can others attending the protest.
A source close to Mrs Braverman said she would be ‘asking Sir Mark for an explanation over the response’ by police to incidents that took place during protests by 100,000 pro-Palestine demonstrators in the capital (protest pictured)
Karen Pollock, chief executive of the Holocaust Educational Trust, urged the Met to reconsider its approach. She described Hizb ut-Tahrir as ‘extremists’, adding: ‘I don’t think anyone thinks this was ‘spiritual’ – it was a call to wage war on Israel and this understandably will send chills down the spines of Jewish people.
‘I find the police response to this perplexing to say the least.’
Ms Pollock said members of the Jewish community would also have felt concerned by footage of a London Tube driver leading pro-Palestinian chants through the carriages’ public address system on Saturday.
She said: ‘We will not cower and we will go about our lives. But if I had been on that Tube, it would have been highly intimidating – I would have been wondering how soon I could get off it.’
Lord Pickles, who serves as the UK’s special envoy for post-Holocaust issues, said: ‘The Metropolitan Police said they allowed the chanting of “From the river to the sea” on yesterday’s march because the route does not go near a synagogue or a school.
‘Presumably, this means it is acceptable to chant an anti-Semitic slogan on the streets of the nation’s capital, providing it is not done outside a synagogue.’
The Met acknowledged that although the word jihad had a ‘number of meanings… we know the public will most commonly associate it with terrorism.’
The force said specialist officers and the Crown Prosecution Service had ‘assessed the video and have not identified any offences arising from the specific clip’.
It added: ‘However, recognising the way language like this will be interpreted by the public and the divisive impact it will have, officers identified the man involved and spoke to him to discourage any repeat of similar chanting.’
Hizb ut-Tahrir Britain said it held demonstrations outside the Egyptian and Turkish embassies to call on Egypt and Turkey to unite in ‘rescuing their Palestinian brothers and sisters’.