A woman hunted by the police over a placard showing Rishi Sunak and Suella Braverman as coconuts has been revealed as a teacher whose friends say she doesn’t have a ‘malicious bone in her body’.
Marieha Mohsin Hussain was seen with a banner depicting Suella Braverman and Mr Sunak as coconuts, which is a racist term used to imply that someone has betrayed their race.
The married teacher held the sign up at the pro-Palestinian march in London when at least 300,000 protesters marched calling for a ceasefire in Gaza. Police made 126 arrests at the rally and nine officers were left injured.
The teacher, who grew up in her family’s £2million detached home in Great Missenden, Bucks, attended a number of other protests, including one accusing the BBC of pro-Israeli bias, according to The Times.
But a friend of the 36-year-old said ‘there is not a malicious bone in her body’.
Marieha Mohsin Hussain was seen with a banner depicting Suella Braverman and Mr Sunak as coconuts, which is a racist term used to imply that someone has betrayed their race
Officers detained and arrested scores of counter-protesters at the rally
A counter-protester is detained by police in Parliament Square in central London on Saturday
Her father is Mohsin Ali, a distinguished dermatologist who qualified in Pakistan but has worked in the UK for decades.
Her mother confirmed to The Times that Hussain was on the march but declined to comment about the placard.
A friend told The Times: ‘She is not the sort of person who would ever dream of doing something bad. There is not a malicious bone in her body.
‘She would never do something that was a hate crime. Marieha and her family are the most peaceful, lovely, helpful people you would ever meet. I am sure she would not know it would cause any trouble.’
Police are investigating a possible racially aggravated public order offence.
It comes after an ex-Labour activist is being questioned by the Met Police after being pictured waving a placard showing the Star of David with the Nazi swastika on the pro-Palestine Armistice Day march.
Kate Varnfield, 66, was pictured attending the rally in London last weekend with a placard showing the Star of David enmeshed with the Nazi swastika
Labour sources in the South East have said that Ms Varnfield joined the Eastbourne Constituency Labour Party around the time that Jeremy Corbyn became party leader
Kate Varnfield, 66, was pictured attending the rally in London last weekend with a placard showing the Star of David enmeshed with the Nazi swastika above the words: ‘No British politician should be a ‘friend of Israel’.’
Ms Varnfield’s 73-year-old husband, Terry, insisted to the Mail that the signs had been ‘taken out of context’ and were an innocent reference to a 1970s UFO religion.
Today, the Met Police confirmed a man and woman are being questioned at a Sussex police station in connection with the picture.
Prime Minister Rishi Sunak has said the ugly scenes in London ‘utterly disrespects’ the spirit of remembrance and condemned ‘wholly unacceptable’ actions by both far-right groups and ‘Hamas sympathisers’ on the pro-Palestinian march.
He also put pressure on police by saying ‘all criminality must be met with the full and swift force of the law’.
Commander Karen Findlay of the Met Police, responsible for policing in London this week, said: ‘While the vast majority of people demonstrated peacefully, there were various breakaway groups whose behaviour was completely unacceptable. Our response was quick and decisive.
‘Our officers have been working tirelessly to deal with the 29 individuals arrested yesterday, with six of those now charged and set to appear in court. Four of those arrested yesterday evening have been referred to their local Youth Offending Teams.
‘One arrest has been made this morning for a public order offence after a man was allegedly heard making anti-Semitic comments in Parliament Square.’
The police said they are continuing to review footage and will take action if there is a hate crime.
More than 1,300 officers were on duty on Saturday but officers reported an increase in violence against them.
Protesters hold flares during the pro-Palestinian protest in London on Saturday
One placard displayed at the protest compared Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to Nazi leader Adolf Hitler
Commander Findlay added: ‘We will continue to be sharper in our response and take action on any placards being carried at protests which are inflammatory and incite racial hatred, or purport to be supporting a proscribed organisation.
‘These are offences and any such banners or material will be assessed by the Met’s Counter Terrorism Command.
‘In addition, we received intelligence that a pamphlet purported to support Hamas was on sale at yesterday’s protest. A copy of this is being reviewed by Counter Terrorism officers.
‘As in recent weeks, we have been speaking to the organisers of the pro-Palestine march to discuss yesterday’s demonstrations.
‘We will continue to speak to them across this week as part of our ongoing planning for the weekend’s Remembrance events and will monitor and review all information available to us.
‘We fully appreciate the national significance of Armistice Day.
‘Thousands of officers will be deployed in an extensive security operation and we will use all powers and tactics at our disposal to ensure that anyone intent on disrupting it will not succeed.’
The messaging marred pro-Palestine marches taking place in 40 towns and cities across the UK – as thousands marched to call for a ceasefire. At least three people were arrested in London’s Piccadilly Circus and eight arrests were made elsewhere in the capital, the Met Police said.