Letter to Mayor of London regarding Al Quds Day 2018

Dear Mayor Khan,

Re: Annual Al-Quds Day, 10 June 2018

We the undersigned write to demand that your office support the rights to free expression and to protection from racist violence with regard to the above event – contrary to your efforts at banning it.

As you will be aware, this is an annual event to campaign for the rights of Palestinians. It has run as a peaceful family friendly event in London for three decades. The procession is always a diverse inclusive group from a wide range of ethnicities and walks of life.  The police have praised the peaceful nature of this event and have had to increase their presence only in response to violent threats against it.

In particular, the grotesque violence by Darren Osborne in Finsbury Park last year was initially targeted at Al-Quds Day. As Mrs Justice Cheema-Grubb said in her judgment in the Osborne case, he intended to “drive into and murder innocent people, lawfully assembling and protesting in London”, at Al Quds Day. Fortunately ‘the detailed public safety arrangements made by the Metropolitan Police for the Al Quds Day march saved many lives’, 02.02.2018,
https://www.judiciary.gov.uk/judgments/r-v-darren-osborne-sentencing-remarks-of-mrs-justice-cheema-grubb/

Arguably Osborne was responding to the demonization of the event by extreme Right-wing and Zionist groups. Their campaign can be seen as incitement to religious and or racial hatred. In video footage from last year’s counter-protests, pro-Israel groups are screaming “You are terrorists” at women and children, and extreme Right-wing protestors are shouting racist invectives like “F@%k the Palestinians” (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3UWb-xBzIx4&t=4s from 2:00:00 until 2:03:00).

This year similar demonization and incitement is taking place. Already the same individuals have been involved in the criminal damage (which is being investigated as a hate crime) of a poster advertising the event and have made veiled threats of taking further action during the event itself.

In the run-up to Al-Quds Day last year and again this year, your office actively supported demands to ban it: “I’ve written to the Home Secretary asking her to ban the march using the powers that she has” (quoted in Jewish News, 15.04.2018, http://jewishnews.timesofisrael.com/sadiq-khan-ill-carry-on-lobbying-hezbollah/)

We ask you instead to show your support for the lawful, peaceful and inclusive activism of Al-Quds Day by publicly:
– committing to its security and safety;
– eschewing all hate campaigns targeting it;
– pursuing to the full extent of the law, those who seek to incite violence against it;
– supporting the right to protest, free expression and the right to be protected from racist hatred and violence.

Signed,

Les Levidow – Jews for Boycotting Israeli Goods (J-BIG)
Saleh Mamon – Campaign Against Criminalising Communities (CAMPACC)
Sofiah MacLeod – Chair, Scottish Palestine Solidarity Campaign (SPSC)
Massoud Shadjareh – Islamic Human Rights Commission (IHRC)
John Tymon – Football Against Apartheid
Abbas Ali – Innovative minds
Sayyid Samir Al-Haidari – Ahlulbayt Islamic Mission
Azzam Mohamad – Ahl-al-Bait Society
(Rabbi) Ahron Cohen – Neturei Karta, Orthodox Jewish opposition to Zionism
Baroness Jenny Tonge – Independent Peer, Member of the House of Lords
Nadia Yaqub – Member of Camden Palestine Solidarity Campaign
Ruth Tenne – Camden Palestine Solidarity Campaign
Prof. Ilan Pappé
Michael Kalmanovitz – International Jewish Anti-Zionist Network UK
Averil Parkinson (Chair)
Cambridge Palestine Solidarity Campaign
Zareen Taj – Cambridge Stop The War Coalition
Prof. Haim Bresheeth – Professorial Research Associate, Faculty of Arts and Humanities
School of Oriental and African Studies and Director of Camera Obscura Films.
Tony Greenstein – Brighton & Hove UNISON local government and B&H Trades Union Council
Aberystwyth – Friends of Palestine
Mike Cushman – Free speech on Israel.
Khaled Khalil – Secretary & Spokesperson, Association of Palestinian Communities in Scotland
Mick Nepier – SPSC
Richard Haley – Chair, Scotland Against Criminalising Communities
Dr Issam Hijjawi – Association of Palestine
Balfour Declaration centenary campaign
Mir Ali Jabber- Palestine Democratic Forum
Abou Jaffar- Scottish Form for Middle East and North Africa.