A London estate agent who was arrested for putting up a Palestinian flag on his premises has been released on bail.
Police were called to the offices of the Muslim male, who prefers to remain unnamed for now, after a single passer-by complained about the flag on which the businessman had written “Zionism=Nazism”.
Several police cars descended on the scene of the complaint within hours by which time the estate agent had relocated the flag from his shop window to the interior.
The estate agent refused police requests to take down the flag at which point they read him his rights, handcuffed him and bundled him into the back of a police van.
The arrest took place last Friday 18 July after the estate agent had decided to launch his own one-man protest against Israel’s brutal onslaught on Palestinians living in the Gaza Strip.
The man is now awaiting a decision from the Crown Prosecution Service as to whether he will be charged under public order legislation.
The case does not appear to be isolated. IHRC has learned about other pro-Palestinian activists being harassed by police after pressure from pro-Israeli groups and individuals, simply for for carrying flags, symbols or messages supportive of the Palestinian cause.
IHRC calls on anybody who has been a victim of harassment to contact its advocacy department where they will be able to access support and legal assistance.
IHRC chair Massoud Shadjareh said: “What people choose to say might not be in good taste but the criminal law is there to combat criminality, not sets standards of taste. It is outrageous that the law is being used to harass supporters of the Palestinians for doing little more than expressing their political views on the spurious grounds that displaying symbols is a threat to public order. Just one complaint is enough to trigger a disproportionately heavy police response. At the same time however, people like the MP Michael Gove whose book Celsius 7/7 offends millions by referring to Islamists as Nazis can express their views with impunity.”
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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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Telephone (+44) 20 8904 4222