Home Secretary fails to silence opposition to the continuing slaughter in Gaza, as Met Police Chief refuses to succumb to pressure
The Metropolitan Police Commissioner, Sir Mark Rowley, has resisted attempts to pressure him into arresting peaceful protesters who participated in Saturday’s pro-Palestinian march in central London and who chanted the popular slogan ‘from the river to the sea’.
He spoke to waiting press journalists following a meeting with the Home Secretary, Suella Braverman on Monday, who had demanded an explanation as to why arrests had not been made during the march and also at another separate event hosted by Hitzb ut-Tahrir, outside the Egyptian and Turkish Embassies in central London on the same day. The Met Police Chief explained that his team had taken steps to monitor in real time, footage of the march, in the company of lawyers specialising in counter-terrorism law from the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS), in order to establish if actions of the protesters had breached the line of the law. He confirmed that the unanimous decision of all present was that the actions had not.
Similarly, the chants of ‘Jihad’, which had been reported at the HT event were not deemed to have crossed the line either. Officers, it was explained, did however speak to the HT individual who had made the ‘Jihad’ chants and advised him that although there was an acceptance that the term had a wide meaning, it was possible in the context that such language could be misinterpreted by the public and could have a divisive impact. According to a Met Police spokesperson, they simply discouraged him from repeating similar chanting.
Citing what the Met Chief referred to as a ‘gap in the law’, Sir Mark Rowley said the police couldn’t be expected to enforce ‘taste and decency’. He added that if the government feels the need to take tougher action, than they will need to change the laws to reflect that.
'From the river to the sea...'
Home Secretary threatens to ban the march and to direct police to adopt zero tolorence
Home Secretary, Suella Braverman, has been arguing very publicly in advance of this weekend’s march, that the chanting of the slogan ‘from the river to the sea, Palestine will be free’, as well as the waving of Palestinian flags, can and should be interpreted as ‘racially aggravated’ and as such should be subject to sanction under the Public Order Act. The Home Secretary even made suggestions towards banning the march altogether, as she threatened to direct the Met police to adopt a zero tolerance policy. She was obviously unhappy, that despite the fact that Saturday’s march galvanized one of the largest gatherings of protesters ever seen in London, only a handful of arrests were made. There were only ten arrests made, mostly linked to public order offences.
The Home Secretary had also taken a keen interest in the story which grabbed the headlines on the weekend and a video of which had ‘gone viral’ on social media, of the tube driver who used the train’s tannoy speaker system, to chant the words ‘Free, free’, to which significant numbers of passengers repeatedly responded with the reply ‘Palestine!’. According to a statement issued on Monday by a spokesman for Transport For London (TFL), the driver has since been suspended from his duties, pending an investigation.
The Met Police Chief, Mark Rowley, at his meeting with the Home Secretary made reference to a report he had authored two years prior, in which he argued that the law needed to be changed and which had suggested that there was a ‘gaping chasm’ in the law which allowed ‘extremists to operate with impunity’. This did not prevent Immigration Minister, Robert Jenrick, publicly criticising the Met Police over its failure to arrest protesters. Jenrick said protesters had incited terrorist violence and that they should therefore have been met with the ‘full force of the law’. He had also criticised the actions of the Met live on LBC Radio. He said:
‘I think a lot of people would find the Metropolitan Police analysis surprising, and that’s something that we intend to raise with them and to discuss this incident with them’
We are witnessing the beginnings 'of a police state'
One of the principal organisers of Saturday’s march, Chair and Founder of ‘Friends of Al Aqsa’, Ismail Patel, agued that:
‘The British government has exploited the crisis in Gaza to further undermine civil liberties here in the UK. For the past two weeks, as Israel continues to indiscriminately bomb the Gaza Strip, killing more than 4,000 civilians, there has been a surge in pro-Palestine protests across the country.
In response, last week Home Secretary Suella Braverman, wrote to the police to warn that the waving of Palestinian flags and chanting freedom for Palestine may be a criminal offence.
This comes on the back of a swathe of measures curtailing human rights in the UK, most notably the Elections Act, Judicial Review and Courts Act and the 2023 Public Order Bill’
Ismail Patel further warned that:
‘…what we are witnessing in the UK is the government silencing any perspective that is not in line with its own ideology, an ideology that is in contradiction with human rights, international law and Geneva Conventions.
Unless these extreme restrictions are challenged, a two-tiered system of citizenship will emerge in the UK, which continues to sleepwalk into a police state’