To the European Commission – Directorate of Justice
Věra Jourová, Commissioner on Justice, Consumers and Gender Equality
Tommaso Chiamparino, EU Cooridnator on combating anti-Muslim hatred
12 March 2019
Re: Annual Al-Quds Day, London, UK
It has been reported in The Daily Telegraph regarding Islamic Human Rights Commission (IHRC) and its involvement in an EU funded project on Islamophobia that:
““A European Commission spokesperson told The Sunday Telegraph it is now preparing to “terminate” its agreement with the group[IHRC], but declined to say how much had already been paid to the IHRC. “The Commission stands firmly against all forms of anti-Semitism,” he said.””
We the undersigned write to demand that your office supports the rights to political expression and to protection from racist violence with regard to the above event, and in particular retract your statements and demands about and regarding the Islamic Human Rights Commission. It appears that you have accepted accusation of anti-Semitism against the event and the organisers based on spurious media articles.
We confirm that we do not believe the event or the IHRC to be anything of the sort.
As you will be aware, Al-Quds Day in London, UK 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 took place. 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 made veiled threats of taking further action during the event itself. Further threats were made subsequent to the event with regard to next year.
We ask you instead to show your support for the lawful, peaceful, anti-racist and inclusive activism of Al-Quds Day by publicly:
– committing to its security and safety;
– eschewing all hate campaigns targeting it;
– supporting the right to protest, free expression and the right to be protected from racist hatred and violence;
- denouncing the invective shown towards its and its organisers;
- issuing an apology to IHRC for your comments and retracting your demands regarding the termination of its contract with the University of Leeds on an EC-DJ funded project.
Your comments reported publicly, if true, suggest a political, partisan and deeply racist stand on this affair and undermines your commitments against racism and for free political expression, civil liberties and minority rights.
Abbas Ali, Inminds
Anne Mitchell, Chair Brighton and Hove PSC
Averil Parkinson, Chair Cambridge Palestine Solidarity Campaign
Daud Abdullah, Middle East Monitor
Dr Maria Holt, Reader in Politics, Democracy & Islam Programme, School of Social Sciences (Politics & International Relations) University of Westminster
Ghada Karmi, Honorary research fellow at the Institute of Arab and Islamic Studies, University of Exeter
Houria Bouteldja, Party of the Indigenous of the Republic
John Tymon, Football Against Apartheid
Latifa Abouchakra, International Officer for National Union for Education (Ealing)
Malia Bouattia, journalist and former NUS President
Massoud Shadjareh, Islamic Human Rights Commission (IHRC)
Michael Kalmanovitz, International Jewish Anti-Zionist Network UK
Mick Napier, Scottish Palestine Solidarity Campaign (SPSC)
Mohsin Abbas, Co-founder Initiative for Muslim Community Development (IMCD)
Pravini Baboeram, activist, Netherlands
Professoer Abbas Edalat, Campaign Against Sanctions and Military Intervention in Iran (CASMII)
Professor Haim Bresheeth, Professorial Research Associate, Faculty of Arts and Humanities, School of Oriental and African Studies
Professor Ilan Pappé, Professor of History, Director of the European Centre for Palestine Studies, University of Exeter
Professor MBE Breen-Smyth, Professor Emerita University of Surrey
Rabbi Ahron Cohen, Neturei Karta, Orthodox Jewish opposition to Zionism
Revd Dr Stephen Sizer – interfaith and human rights activist
Richard Haley, Chair Scotland Against Criminalising Communities
Roshan Salih, Press TV
Saleh Mamon, Campaign Against Criminalising Communities (CAMPACC)
Sandew Hira, Co-ordinator Decolonial International Network (DIN)
Sayyid Samir Al-Haidari, Ahlulbayt Islamic Mission
Shaykh Dr. Mohammad Saeed Bahmanpour
Silvia Rodríguez Maeso, Centre for Social Studies, Portugal
Tim Llewellyn, former Middle East BBC correspondent
Tony Greenstein, Brighton & Hove UNISON
Zareen Taj, Cambridge Stop the War Coalition
Georgia Georgiadou, Deputy Head of Unit, DG JUST, European Commission
Barbara Nolan Head of Fundamental Rights Policy – European Commission
Daniela Bankier, Head of Unit for equality between women and men in the Directorate-General Justice
Phillipe Boving, Head of Sector, Legacy Management and Extrapolation, Budget
Tomasso Chiamparino, EU Coordinator on Tackling Anti-Muslim Hatred
Jutta Ditrich, Project Officer, Europaan Commission