A prominent Islamic organisation has accused London Mayor Sadiq Khan of “betraying Londoners” over his calls to close a loophole that allows anti-Israel protesters to legally fly the flag of Hezbollah on the city’s streets.

The intervention from Islamic Human Rights Commission Ltd (IHRC), which jointly organises the annual Al-Quds Day demonstration, follows the release of a letter Khan sent to Home Secretary Amber Rudd in July.

In it, Khan urged Rudd to ban the flying of Hezbollah’s flag, which is still allowed because only the armed wing of the group is proscribed as a terrorist group, while the other so-called ‘political’ wing is not. Jewish groups have long argued that, as Hezbollah makes no distinction between the two ‘wings,’ nor should Britain.

Angry at Khan’s letter, the IHRC this week said the mayor was guilty of “a betrayal of trust and a dereliction of duty towards the capital’s residents” after Khan referred problems in the run-up to, and aftermath of, this year’s demonstration.

Mayor Sadiq Khan

Mayor Sadiq Khan

The IHRC says the march is being subjected to “a concerted smear campaign in the pro-Israel and mainstream media aimed at pressurising the London mayor to ban it”.

In a statement on Monday, the group said: “Opponents accuse it of being a front for espousing anti-Semitism and religious extremism even though in 30 years of demonstrating in support of Palestinians, it has earned a reputation for being a family friendly, multicultural, multi-faith and peaceful event.”

It added that, in calling for Rudd to close the loophole, Khan “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”.

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