Sadiq Khan has spoken of the “distress” caused to the Jewish community by the displaying of Hezbollah flags and insisted he is confident police will “thoroughly” investigate their use in a London rally earlier this month.
The Mayor of London was questioned about the repeated displaying of the flag of the Lebanese terror group at the Al Quds Day march by London Assembly member Kemi Badenoch.
Sadiq Khan said: “I understand the concerns of the Jewish community, and the distress these flags cause many Londoners.
“It would not be appropriate for me to comment on an ongoing police investigation, but the police know how seriously I take this issue and I am confident they will thoroughly investigate the events of July 3.
“I will continue to work closely with the Commissioner to make sure reports of this kind are taken very seriously.”
In 2013, using powers granted by Section 13 of the Terrorism Act 2000, two men were arrested for displaying Hezbollah flags. Kemi Badenoch called for the Metropolitan Police to exercise these arrest powers whenever these flags are seen.
Conservative London Assembly member Kemi Badenoch said: “The fact that Hezbollah flags were seen to be flown at a rally in London without police intervention is truly shocking. Flying the Hezbollah flag is illegal, they are a terrorist organisation that promotes Anti-Semitism, and the police should use their powers to stop this message of hate.
“The Mayor has promised a ‘zero tolerance approach to anti-Semitism’, and I will be urging him to take these flags off London’s streets.”
When home secretary, May suggested that such acts could fall under Section 13 of the Terrorism Act 2000 and arrests were made during the visit of Benjamin Netanyahu last year. However Jewish News revealed ahead of this year’s Al Quds event that no charges were forthcoming.
The confusion appears to centre on the fact the armed wing of Hezbollah is listed as a terrorist group while the political wing is not, yet the two elements share the same flag. The home office has said “the context and manner in which the flag is displayed must demonstrate that it is specifically in support of the proscribed elements of the group”.