PRESS RELEASE - UK: IHRC demands retraction and apology for MP's Al-Quds Day smear

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Offord's statements form part of a wider hate campaign against the rally by a coalition of Zionist groups.


IHRC has demanded an urgent retraction and apology from the conservative MP Matthew Offord for comments in which he linked the annual Al-Quds Day demonstration with the extremist group Daesh (ISIS).

In a letter to the Metropolitan Police quoted in the Jewish Chronicle Matthew Offord, who is a member of the Conservative Friends of Israel, said that "the display of Hezbollah, Hamas and Daesh flags causes great distress to many of my constituents and the population as a whole and, in my opinion, is contrary to the Terrorism Act.”

"We would like to point out that Daesh flags have never been flown at an Al Quds Day rally. This is a lie, that is being used to smear the peaceful participants of the Al Quds Day rally and the IHRC," it says.

"Your comment is not only a lie, but deeply damaging to our reputation as one of the organisers of the event. Your comments are clearly calculated to cause maximum damage to our reputation on the eve of a major annual event."

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 have also drawn a link between the Palestinian rally and the recent massacre of revellers in an Orlando nightclub in the USA.

Given the tension that has already been whipped up by organisers of the counter demonstration at which Offord is speaking, IHRC believes that his comments amount to incitement of religious hatred and incitement to violence.

IHRC is deeply concerned 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.

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.

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

Notes to editors:

IHRC's letter can be read in full here

Date and Time of demonstration: Sunday 3 July from 3.30pm

Assembly Point: Duchess Street (near BBC Radio)

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

[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

PO Box 598

Wembley

HA9 7XH

United Kingdom

Telephone (+44) 20 8904 4222

Email: info@ihrc.org

Web: www.ihrc.org

Twitter @ihrc