From: Islamic Human Rights Commission
16 October 2017
PRESS RELEASE – UK: Sadiq Khan accused of betraying Londoners over Al-Quds Day stance
IHRC has accused the Mayor of London Sadiq Khan of a betrayal of trust and a dereliction of duty towards the capital’s residents after the emergence of a letter surrounding the annual Al-Quds Day demonstration.
The letter, dated 11 July 2017, asks Amber Rudd to close what Khan says Jewish groups and fellow London Assembly members describe as a “loophole” that allows people to continue to show support for the political wing of the Lebanese organisation.
Mr Khan appeals to the Home Secretary to proscribe the political arm of Hezbollah just as its military wing is proscribed under terrorism legislation.
The complaints to which Mr Khan refers came in the run-up to and in the aftermath of this year’s Al-Quds Day demonstration in London on 18 June which was subjected to a concerted smear campaign in the pro-Israel and mainstream media aimed at pressurising the London mayor to ban it.
Opponents accused it of being a front for espousing anti-semitism and religious extremism even though in its 30 years of existence the demonstration in support of Palestinians has earned a reputation for being a family friendly, multicultural, multi-faith and peaceful event.
The smear campaign did not prevent the 2017 march from taking place and in fact after Mr Khan wrote to the IHRC on 13 July after the event praising the “good engagement” between organisers and the police and the fact that police had reported no indicents. In the same letter Mr Khan also said he respected the right of people to demonstrate as long as it was done within the law.
Set against his letter to Amber Rudd two days earlier that stance now looks like doublespeak. In the letter to Rudd, Khan recommends that the Home Secretary “give strong weight to the representations of the Jewish community in London” to close the “loophole”.
He also connects the Al-Quds Day demonstration with anti-semitism and extremism telling Rudd he will do everything in his power to crack down on both.
IHRC finds its disgraceful that despite knowing about the peaceful nature and content of the Al-Quds Day demonstration and indeed agreeing that the waving of Hezbollah flags by some participants is within the law, Khan recommends the imposition of restrictions on their right of free expression. In doing so he has sided with groups that have shown little compunction in employing the crudest and most disgusting racist and Islamophobic tropes in pursuing their agenda of preventing people showing solidarity with the oppressed Palestinians.
The IHRC letter says: “Your constituents of various faiths, including those who are Muslim, and those of differing political affiliations than your own are entitled to go about their lawful business without being subjected to abuse, and indeed you as their Mayor must ensure that their equality before the law and in their treatment by institutions, as well as their civil liberties are understood and protected. To date we have seen very little from your office to protect their rights or freedoms.
“We believe that there has been a serious breach of trust in your conduct, and potential violations of the code of conduct that governs your office.Â We hope you will consider publicly amending your stance regarding Al-Quds Day, in particular distancing yourself from the racist and politically motivated campaign against it, apologise for your advocacy on its behalf and do all in your power to reverse the demonisation that has resulted from it.”
The 13 July 2017 letter from the Mayor of London to IHRC can be read on the IHRC website here
The 11 July 2017 letter from Sadiq Khan to the Homse Secretary can be read here
IHRC’s letter dated 16 October 2017 to Sadiq Khan can be read here
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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