Letter to Mayor of London regarding Al Quds Day

Letter to Mayor of London regarding Al Quds Day

Sadiq Khan, The Mayor of London
City Hall
The Queen’s Walk

Sent by email: mayor@london.gov.uk / enquiries@mopac.london.gov.uk

Thursday 18 May 2017

Dear Mayor Khan,

This open letter is written in response to a letter writing campaign from the ‘North London Friends of Israel’ and ‘We Believe in Israel’, demonising the annual Al Quds Day demonstration, and calling for action to be taken against it. As you are no doubt aware, this is an annual event to campaign for the rights of Palestinians, which has run as a peaceful family friendly event in London for a number of years now. The procession is always a diverse inclusive group, made up of Muslims, Jews, Christians, people of various faiths and none, from a wide range of ethnicities and walks of life.

One of the key arguments made in the template letter is that Hizbullah flags have been carried at this demonstration and that this is both a criminal offence and representative of antisemitism. Both of these claims are baseless. The party’s political wing is not proscribed under British law, and as such holding these flags is not considered unlawful. This interpretation has been repeatedly confirmed by the Crown Prosecution Service, and the Metropolitan Police, including Patricia Gallan, the Assistant Commissioner. To some demonstrators, the flag represents resistance to Israeli aggression, including opposition to war crimes committed in the 2006 invasion of Lebanon. Last year, a number of Orthodox rabbis carried these flags in solidarity.

We believe removing, or restricting the right to protest and challenge injustice in the world is damaging to society, and in fact downright dangerous. There are clear, grave consequences of silencing the voices of the oppressed and their advocates. It should be noted this demonstration does not exist in a vacuum; the nature of Israeli oppression of Palestinians, including war crimes, has been well documented by the UN and the international community, outraging a wide range of people.

We therefore ask you to ignore the slurs from the pro-Israel lobby and protect the legitimate rights of demonstrators against Israeli war crimes. Such rights reinforce London’s reputation as a city whose population stands in defence of the oppressed.

Yours sincerely,

The undersigned

Azzam Mohamad – Ahl-al-Bait Society

Sayyid Al-Haidari – Ahlulbayt Islamic Mission

Tony Greenstein Brighton – Hove & District Trades Union Council Unison; Brighton & Hove Local Government

Averil Parkinson – Cambridge Palestine Solidarity Campaign

Zareen Taj – Cambridge Stop the War

Sabby Sagall – Camden Palestine Solidarity Campaign

Saleh Mamon – Campaign Against Criminalising Communities

John Rees – Counterfire

Dr. Ibrahim Khadra – Fatah

John Tymon – Football Against Apartheid

Sue Sibany-King – Football Against Apartheid

Prof. Jonathan Rosenhead – Free Speech on Israel

Mike Cushman – Free Speech on Israel

Deborah Darnes – Board Member, Friends of Sabeel UK

Baroness Jenny Tonge – Independent Peer, Member of the House of Lords

Abbas Ali – Innovative Minds

Michael Kalmanovitz – International Jewish Anti-Zionist Network UK

Massoud Shadjareh – Islamic Human Rights Commission

Les Levidow – Jews for Boycotting Israeli Goods

Rabbi Ahron Cohen – Neturei Karta UK

Dr. Essam Hijawi – Palestine Society

Geoffrey Lee – Member of the Palestine Solidarity Campaign

Victoria Minton – Palestine Support Network Huddersfield

Benoit Martin – Payday Men’s Network

Mick Napier – Scottish Palestine Solidarity Campaign

Chrissy Warren – Women of Colour in the Global Women’s Strike

Sara Callaway – Women of Colour in the Global Women’s Strike

Prof. Haim Bresheeth

Prof. Ilan Pappé

Janet Green

Dr. Robert Boyce

Ruth Tenne

—– Further signatories added on 22 May 2017:

Arthur West and Hugh Humphries – Scottish Friends of Palestine
Dr Issam Hijjawi – Association of Palestinian Communities; Scotland
Wael Shawish – Scottish Palestinian Forum
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