Muslim advocacy group CAGE has accused London’s Metropolitan Police of unleashing a campaign of intimidation and bullying against members of the public expressing support for Palestine.
CAGE says the police have arrested innocent people carrying placards and other legal symbols of Palestinian solidarity, and have published innocent people’s faces and, in some cases, their home addresses on social media.
In doing so, CAGE says, the police are inviting sensationalist media coverage, violence and hate against Muslim communities and pro-Palestine activists.
In recent weeks the police have arrested or pursued pro-Palestine activists for holding placards saying “Zionists are terrorists” and comparing Rishi Sunak and Suella Braverman to “coconuts.”
Other activists have been pursued for simply wearing headbands with the shahada on them.
The Met has come under heavy political pressure to crack down on pro-Palestinian activism amid huge solidarity protests that have been branded “hate marches” by prominent politicians and commentators.
But CAGE says it has documented a “growing number of cases” where police forces are employing “intimidatory and bullish” tactics against legal forms of demonstration in the name of “combating hate crimes or through weaponising public order offences.”
These tactics are representative of the deep-seated nature of Islamophobia and racism inherent within the Metropolitan Police, CAGE says.
A spokesperson for CAGE said: “The police are behaving increasingly erratically in their attempts to silence voices against the genocide of the Palestinian people. Behaving entirely at the behest of the Westminster elite, the police force has become entirely politicised and compromised.
“Most egregiously, the police are denying the right of free expression and assembly by falsely attributing ‘potential’ anti-semitic motives when there is no evidence to suggest it exists.”
The Met say they are continuing to make arrests as part of their ongoing investigations into real-world and online offending linked to the ongoing conflict between Israel and Hamas.
They say that if they identify anyone involved with or committing offences, they will be investigated and the police will take the necessary action.