The Conservative MP for Hendon has written to the Assistant Commissioner at the Metropolitan police to raise his concerns over Jewish News reports that Hezbollah flags will be waved at the Al-Quds Day rally on Sunday 3 July.
Matthew Offord MP argued that doing so would be “contrary to the Section 13 of the Terrorism Act (2000),” despite organisers saying they would not be discouraging the practice as they did not believe it to be illegal.
Home Secretary Theresa May has in the past said she would instruct police to take a dim view, but this week, the Home Office issued guidance on the matter, which left more questions than answers.
Alluding to Hezbollah’s military wing, which is proscribed, and its political wing, which isn’t, a spokesman said: “The flags for the organisation’s military wings are the same as those of the political wings. Therefore, for it to be an offence, 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.”
Offord first raised the issue with the Metropolitan Police in September 2015, after witnessing Hezbollah flags being flown at a counter-demonstration over the UK visit of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
He said: “I am concerned to learn of the forthcoming Al-Quds Day rally, to be held in London. The display of Hezbollah, Hamas and Daesh [Islamic State] flags causes great distress to many of my constituents and the population as a whole and, in my opinion, is contrary to the Terrorism Act. I will certainly be raising this again with the Metropolitan Police and I hope for a positive response.”
Section 13 of the Terrorism Act (2000) states that it is a criminal offence for people to “wear clothing or carry or display articles in public in such a way or in such circumstances as to arouse reasonable suspicion that an individual is a member or supporter of the proscribed organisation”.