A pro-Palestine campaigner who repeatedly criticised Israel during the Al Quds march in London earlier this year will not be facing prosecution for hate speech.
The Campaign Against Antisemitism reported Nazim Ali, an Islamic Human Rights Commission speaker, to the police after he made several anti-Israel and anti-Zionist comments during the march in June, but the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) has found that he has no case to answer.
Mr Ali says he has been fully vindicated and is a victim of the pro Israel lobby.
Zionists took particular offence when Ali said: “Some of the biggest corporations who are supporting the Conservative Party are Zionists. They are responsible for the murder in Grenfell. The Zionist supporters of the Tory Party.”
A CPS spokesperson said: “We considered whether offences of inciting racial or religious hatred or a public order offence had been committed, in line with the tests set out in the Code for Crown Prosecutors. We concluded that the evidential test in the Code was not met and therefore no charges have been authorised.”
However, Mr Ali now faces a private prosecution by the Campaign Against Antisemitism but the Islamic Human Rights Commission has vowed to support him.
Following the CPS’s decision, he issued the following statement:
“In the name of God, the most compassionate, most merciful:
“As some of you may be aware, following al-Quds day 2017, a number of false and malicious accusations were made against me by a number of pro-Israeli organisations / journalists. They alleged that my political opposition to Israel and Zionism amounted to hate speech, incitement, terrorism and a public order offence.
“I believe that opposition to Israel and Zionism is a legitimate political position held by many in this country. At al-Quds day, I was chanting alongside Muslims, Jews, Christians as well as people of all faiths and none. We gathered to show our solidarity with the Palestinian people and our opposition to the state of Israel. I was seen chanting alongside Jewish rabbis, ‘Judaism Yes, Zionism No!’
“Despite the legitimacy of our position, a media campaign was started against me, journalists targeted my employers and they published numerous articles making wild allegations, followed by malicious complaints to the police – all part of the same campaign to silence al-Quds day.
“Following extensive investigation by the police and CPS, the CPS concluded that there is no shred of evidence that I committed a crime and there was no merit to the false accusations made against me. Despite this, those who have orchestrated this witch-hunt have vowed to continue hounding me via a private prosecution.
“I wish to thank all the thousands of well-wishers who sent me messages of support and my family and friends who stood by me during this difficult time.
“While I understand that the Police and CPS have a job to do, and must investigate all accusations made, they must be more efficient in how they investigate complaints, especially false and malicious complaints which have no factual merits.
“This matter has dragged on for six months, mainly due to pressure applied by pro-Israel media and lobby groups. It should have been obvious to the Police and CPS right from the beginning that nothing I said during the al-Quds day rally amounted to hate-speech, incitement, terrorism or anti-Semitism.
“All my comments were directed at the state of Israel and Zionist organisations; political opinions held by many around the world. Despite this, those who oppose any criticism of Israel repeatedly demanded that the police investigate me, which the police acquiesced to, and the CPS has only now accepted that these accusations are groundless and without any merit.
“It is sad that a narrow lobby group, representing the interests of a foreign power, can manipulate our criminal justice system to target, bully and silence those they oppose. The police and CPS should not allow themselves to become tools of the pro-Israel lobby, being used to suppress any opposition to the state of Israel. They are there to protect British citizens, not to protect Israel from criticism.
“Given recent developments regarding the status of Jerusalem, it is imperative that we to continue to raise our voice in support of the Palestinians and in opposition to the apartheid state of Israel. We must also support and protect those opposing Israel, as there is a concerted effort to demonise and silence anyone who opposes Israel publicly.
“I will continue to raise my voice in support of the Palestinians, now louder than ever, and will not be intimidated into silence by bullies who wish to protect Israel from being criticised for its crimes. I hope you will join me so that we can collectively fight in support of the Palestinian people.
“In the words of the Nobel Peace Prize recipient Bishop Desmond Tutu, ‘We don’t want apartheid liberalised. We want it dismantled. You can’t improve something that is intrinsically evil.’”
The Campaign Against Antisemitism has now started a private prosecution against Ali, accusing him of using “threatening or abusive words or behaviour, within the hearing or sight of a person likely to be caused harassment, alarm or distress thereby.”
It added that it had also made a complaint about Mr Ali, who is a pharmacist, to the General Pharmaceutical Council, and about the IHRC to the Charity Commission.
On the other hand, the IHRC said the CPS decision was a victory for justice and common sense and “hopefully draws a line in the sand against the aggressive lobbying of the pro-Israeli lobby to cynically and falsely conflate criticism of the Zionist state with anti-Semitism.”
The IHRC said: “Despite the CPS’ decision the group Campaign Against Anti-Semitism has stated it will conduct a private prosecution against Mr Ali, and continue the witch-hunt against him. Pro-Israeli activists have already sought to apply pressure on Mr Ali by contacting his employer and using the press to make false and unsubstantiated claims against him.
“While the dropping of the case is a welcome development, IHRC notes the failure of the police to investigate threats and hate speech directed by members of the pro-Israeli counter demonstration as well as known members of the far right at demonstrators taking part in the Al-Quds Day march. It is yet another example of the double standards that have come to characterise official treatment of the Muslim community.
“This annual event is a peaceful, family-friendly, multicultural event that has been running for over 35 years. In this time, there has been no trouble or arrests and the police have always acknowledged the peaceful and lawful nature of the event when discussing event logistics. Despite this, this year’s Al-Quds Day March was the subject of an unprecedented vilification campaign by pro-Israeli activists and the extreme far right who tried unsuccessfully to have it banned with the support of Mayor Sadiq Khan. Failing in their endeavours they then organised an aggressive counter demonstration to intimidate and abuse the participants.”
Massoud Shadjareh, Chair of IHRC, added: “What we have seen in recent years is an aggressive attack against support for BDS or criticism of Israel by pro-Israeli activists. Whether by violently attacking MPs or maliciously defaming individuals as anti-Semitic for being upset at videos of Palestinian children being caged, the apologists for Israeli war crimes refuse to allow any criticism of Israel in the public space.
“This kind of aggressive attempt to silence those who wish to show solidarity with the Palestinians must be resisted. IHRC will support all who are bullied, attacked and demonised by the pro-Israel lobby for their political opposition to Israeli war crimes, and we will stand by anyone who opposes oppression and champions justice for the Palestinian people.”