Hezbollah flags fly in London as hundreds march against Israel
Hezbollah flags flew on the streets of London on Sunday as hundreds turned out for the annual Al Quds Day protest, chanting "from the river to the sea, Palestine will be free" as the march wound its way through the streets of the British capital.
Al Quds Day is an annual event held around the world during the period of Ramadan. Billed as a demonstration in support of the Palestinian people and against the existence of Israel, it began in 1979 when the Islamic Republic of Iran marked the day to express support for Palestinians and call for Israel's demise.
Sunday's March will finish outside the United States embassy. A witness on the scene at the beginning of the rally said around 200 people were present, with more flowing in. Organizers are expecting thousands to join.
As the demonstrators began marching down London's iconic Regent Street, they chanted "Free, free Palestine" and "from the river to the sea, Palestine will be free," referring to historic Palestine that now includes the state of Israel. Some participants also carried placards with pictures of Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei and quotes about Jerusalem that are attributed to him.
Some, including children, held signs reading "We are all Hezbollah. Boycott Israel".
On the same street the rally encountered a smaller but vocal band of counter-demonstrators waving Israeli flags. A line of police attempted to move them onto the sidewalk so that the main march could continue. Some of the counter-demonstrators yelled "they hate the West!" and "you are murderers!"
Images posted on social media of the first thirty minutes of the march, which kicked off at 3pm local time, show some participants draped in Hezbollah flags featuring a fist clenching an automatic rifle. Members of the ultra-Orthodox and anti-Zionist Neturei Karta movement could also be seen at the head of the rally.
As of Sunday morning, over 23,500 people had signed a petition asking London Mayor Sadiq Khan to cancel the march, but a spokesperson for the City Hall said that the mayor could not prevent the march from taking place as long as protesters stayed within the confines of the law.
The Zionist Federation of the UK has organized a counter demonstration which is expected to be attended by a few hundred people.
A statement from organizers, the Islamic Human Rights Commission, gave instructions to participants and explains that marchers can carry Hezbollah flags: "participants are welcome to bring flags that show solidarity with the Palestinian cause. Flags of proscribed (illegal) organisations will not be allowed. For example, you can bring a Hezbollah flag to show support for the political wing of Hezbollah. This is because the political wing of Hezbollah is not a proscribed organisation."
The United States, Canada, Australia and the Arab League countries have listed Hezbollah as a "terrorist" group. The European Union has also blacklisted its powerful military wing, but has stopped short of naming the entire group a terror organization.
The Hezbollah flag - a fist clenching a rifle. These are the symbols of the "peaceful family-friendly" Al Quds Day march. Good to know. pic.twitter.com/u89ihXQbQR— (((WJC))) (@WorldJewishCong) June 18, 2017
Images of preparations for the march show an array signs to be held by demonstrators. One says "End Apartheid Israel" over a picture of late South African statesman Nelson Mandela. Another demands: "Stop ethnic cleansing. Israel destroys three homes every two days."
Another large sign leaning against a wall shows a picture of a bomb with a Star of David being dropped onto a unborn baby, with the headline: "Israeli peace".
The website of another group organizing the event, Innovative Minds, says of planned counter-demonstrations by supporters of Israel: "this year a contingent of Zionists, racists and fascists will be holding a hate-fest counter-demo against Al Quds Day, so its [sic] especially important that we show our solidarity with Palestine on Sunday."
Innovative Minds does not provide information about itself but the content of its website and Facebook page contain many harsh criticisms of Israel and Saudi Arabia.
The Jewish Chronicle reports that Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn has "no plans" to attend the event, despite speaking at the rally in 2012 where he was photographed in front of a Hezbollah flag. The event is organized by a group of organizations including the Stop the War coalition, which Corbyn led until his election as Labour leader in September 2015, however at the time he wrote that he wanted to make "absolutely clear my continuing solidarity with the Coalition and its work against wars of intervention."
The position of chair of the group is currently held by Andrew Murray, who worked for the Labour Party during the 2017 general election. Murray, who was described by Corbyn as "a person of enormous abilities and professionalism," was blasted in a December 2016 article in the Independent, written by human rights and anti-war campaigner Peter Tatchell, who said that Murray was so focused on his criticisms of the West, that he failed to acknowledge Russia's role in the deaths of Syrian civilians.
You need to be logged in in order to post comments. Sign up or log in
Time to become truthful and go for peace!
Pay attention ISIS. You need a "political wing" to be recognized in Londonistan.