An online petition urging the UK Government to proscribe Hezbollah in its entirety easily passed the 10,000 signatures required to force a formal reconsideration by the Home Secretary this week.
By Monday morning, more than 12,300 people had signed the petition asking Sajid Javid to ban all aspects of the Lebanon-based political party and militia. Currently the UK only bans the ‘armed wing’.
It comes ahead of this year’s annual Al Quds Day March through the centre of London, which has in the past regularly seen protesters waving Hezbollah’s yellow flag, which is allowed if they say they support only the ‘political wing,’ which is not currently proscribed.
In 2001, the Government proscribed Hezbollah’s External Security Organisation, it’s so-called ‘military wing,’ and in 2008 this was extended to the organisation’s military operation, including the Jihad Council.
The Home Office, which has the power to proscribe the political wing, says Hezbollah “is committed to armed resistance to the State of Israel and aims to seize all Palestinian territories and Jerusalem from Israel,” adding: “Its military wing supports terrorism in Iraq and the Palestinian territories.”
The petition, originating from the Campaign Against Anti-Semitism (CAA), said Hezbollah – a Shi’ite group which rules Lebanon – was “a genocidal anti-Semitic terrorist organisation” whose own Deputy-General has mocked the distinction between its ‘political’ and ‘armed’ wings.
In 2012, Naim Qassem reportedly said: “We don’t have a military wing and a political one; we don’t have Hezbollah on one hand and the resistance party on the other…Every element is in the service of the resistance.”
Various communal organisations, including the Zionist Federation, have long called for the organisation to be listed in its entirety, and this week CAA chairman Gideon Falter said the petition’s popularity was telling.
“Decent people from every part of the UK, from Orkey to St Ives, have stood together to say enough is enough,” he said. “We want these pro-terrorist parades off our streets. They make a mockery of counter-extremism efforts, are a rallying point for supporters of Islamist terrorism and fuel the far-right.”
Urging Javid to respond to the petition and end what he called “a legal loophole,” Falter described the new Home Secretary as “a decent man who has long stood firm against Islamist extremism”.
Earlier this month, Hezbollah and its allies won the first general election held in Lebanon since 2009, which analysts said was a ‘win’ for Iran, which has sponsored Hezbollah for decades, helping it build an arsenal of rockets aimed at Israel.
- You can view the petition here: https://petition.parliament.uk/petitions/219020