PRESS RELEASE - UK: MP incites hate against pro-Palestinian rally

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Conservative MP Matthew Offord's statement is deliberately deceitful and libellous


A Conservative MP with pro-Israel views is inciting hate against a rally in support of Palestinians due to take place this weekend.

Matthew Offord, who is a member of the Conservative Friends of Israel, has written to the Metropolitan Police to say that "the display of Hezbollah, Hamas and Daesh flags" at the annual Al-Quds demonstration "causes great distress to many of my constituents and the population as a whole and, in my opinion, is contrary to the Terrorism Act.”

His statement, which is deliberately deceitful and libellous, has been widely reported in the Jewish media. IHRC sees it as an attempt to delegitimise the Al-Quds Day rally by drawing a fictitious link between the terrorists of Daesh and the Palestinian freedom struggle. Daesh flags have never been flown at the annual rally.

Offord's statements form part of a wider hate campaign against the rally by a coalition of Zionist groups. The coalition has described slogans and calls for the dismantling of the apartheid state of Israel as "hatred against the Jewish people". It has also demonised those taking part as extremists and called a counter-demonstration that has the capacity to disrupt the Al-Quds rally and promote violence. Organisers are also drawing a link between the Palestinian rally and the recent massacre of revellers in an Orlando nightclub in the USA.

IHRC wrote to the commissioner of the Metropolitan Police seeking to confirm their arrangements for policing the event in the shadow of the obvious threat from Zionist hatemongers. Although he replied on 22 June promising a swift response IHRC is still waiting for it.

There is genuine concern that Zionist extremists will seek to disrupt the pro-Palestinian march. A promotional YouTube video posted by the Zionists is highly dramatic and antagonistic, and the Facebook page appears to be a ‘call to arms’. Previous Al-Quds Day rallies where there have been counter-demonstrations have been subjected to violence including from the Zionist section of the far right English Defence League.

What is worrying is that the Zionist coalition will hold its counter-demonstration at the same place that the Al-Quds demonstration will end - the offices of the US embassy in London. If their campaigning is anything to go by this will effectively mean the Zionists will be whipping up hatred and hostility for two hours, rousing the crowd so that they can unleash their fury on the arriving Al-Quds Day demonstrators.

Thousands are expected to turn out to commemorate Al-Quds Day, a day that has been marked globally since being inaugurated in 1979 by Ayatollah Khomeini who asked for the last Friday in the Islamic holy month of Ramadan to be set aside as a day for uniting against Israel and showing support for the dispossessed and oppressed Palestinians. This year's event in London will also call for an end to racism, anti-semitism and Zionism and will again feature people of all political and religious persuasions including Jews from Israel, Christians and Muslims. One of the main speakers this year is Michel Warschawski, a prominent Israeli anti-Zionist activist.

The event will take place on Sunday 3 July, with demonstrators assembling in Duchess Street in preparation for a march through the busy streets of central London to Grosvenor Square, home to the US embassy.

The embassy has again been selected as a rallying point because of Washington's continuing support of Israel. The US continues to underwrite the Zionist regime financially, militarily and politically and block all attempts at finding a just solution to the Palestinian issue.

While much of the world's attention has been deflected by other conflicts in the Middle East, the Zionist regime has continued its relentless policy of settlement building, confiscating and isolating Palestinian lands and restricting Palestinians' movement and access to the necessities of daily life such as water and medical care. Resistance to the occupation has been met with bullets - some 200 Palestinians have been killed in the last year.

The Gaza Strip remains effectively blockaded by Israel on one side and the Egyptian military regime on the other. The siege has crippled the economy with 41% of people out of work, higher than any other economy in the world, according to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestinian Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA). Youth unemployment is believed to be 60%. Some 80% of inhabitants are dependent on external aid to survive.

Notes to editors:

For media enquiries or further details please email nadia@ihrc.org or call +4420 8904 4222, +44 7426 728074 or +447958 522196

Date and Time of demonstration: 3 July from 3.30pm

Assembly Point: Duchess Street (near BBC Radio)

End/rally location: Grosvenor Square, opposite US embassy [Ends]

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IHRC is an NGO in Special Consultative Status with the Economic and Social Council of the United Nations.

Islamic Human Rights Commission
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