Metropolitan Police accused of ‘racialising’ Palestine demonstrations

Twelve British human rights and media organisations have written to the head of the Metropolitan Police, Sir Mark Rowley, to protest about the force’s handling of pro-Palestine demonstrations in the capital.

They accuse the Met, itself reeling under recent racism scandals, of bias in the way they have policed the huge, almost weekly and overwhelmingly peaceful demonstrations that have been held in London since the Israeli assault on Gaza began in October.

The letter says that the Met has allowed itself to be influenced by the highly inflammatory and politicised representation of these demonstrations by their detractors in the media, government and Zionist lobby.

This has led to the implementation of a biased policing strategy which is heavy-handed and excessive for pro-Palestinian demonstrators but overly indulgent towards pro-Zionists who appear to be breaking the law.

The Met has made dozens of highly questionable arrests and pursued bizarre investigations, many of them against people holding banners that express strong political views. These include:

  • Yael Kahn, a Jewish demonstrator, for carrying a sign that likened Israel to Nazi Germany and the bombardment of Gaza to the Holocaust.
  • The arrests on November 25 of two Muslim females outside the Egyptian embassy for carrying placards in Arabic. By their own admission, the police didn’t know what these signs read but they arrested the women anyway. Both were later released without charge.
  • A Muslim female at a demonstration in Lewisham on November 26 under the Public Order Act for carrying a sign that said “Zionists are Nazis.”
  • Laura Davis, a pro-Palestine protestor who was arrested and then convicted and fined (after pleading guilty) for carrying a placard with the words: “FREE PALESTINE!! ISRA*L BURN IN HELL.”
  • Questioning a woman for holding a placard likening Rishi Sunak and Suella Braverman to coconuts.
  • Other activists have been pursued for simply wearing headbands with the shahada on them.

The letter’s signatories contrast this “overzealous approach” with the “kid-glove treatment” given by police to pro-Israel marchers who directed Nazi slurs at anti-Zionist Jews during the national March for anti-Semitism on November 26.

Video footage of this demonstration shows pro-Israel protestors shouting “Judenrat” at their anti-Israeli co-religionists. Judenrat is a slur used by Jews to describe Nazi collaborators.

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The letter states: “There is an evident inconsistency in your policing when pro-Palestinian demonstrators are being harassed and arrested for comparing Zionism with Nazism but Zionists who accuse Jews of Nazi-esque behaviour are allowed to do so with impunity. It would appear that your force is operating a double standard whereby it is subjecting pro-Palestinian marchers to a lower criminal threshold than their political rivals.”

The signatories also draw attention to the unprecedented presence of the Home Secretary’s Special Lead Advisors for Hate Crime and Media and Communications in the Met’s Special Operations Room.

These Special Advisors have had weekly access to the Special Operations Room, where senior members of the Metropolitan Police’s leadership monitor pro-Palestine protests and issue commands to officers on the ground, share intelligence and make decisions over whether to proceed to arrest.

The Metropolitan Police have also provided senior prosecution lawyers from the Crown Prosecution Service their own operational desk inside the Special Operations Building to work from during these protests.

The front-loading of the charging and prosecution process gives rise to serious concerns about political influence in the Met’s operational decision-making, as does the presence of CPS lawyers in the building. According to the signatories, this is the first-time measures such as these have been put in place by the Metropolitan Police.

Signatories say that policing the demonstrations through a hate-crime lens also reinforces the false image being created by politicians and pundits of the demonstrations as inherently hateful and problematic whereas in reality they have been extremely law-abiding and peaceful.

It would appear that some 20 years since the Islamic Human Rights Commission highlighted two-tier policing of pro-Palestine protests in its report “Muslim Profiling”, the Met is still profiling these protests as Muslim, thereby racialising them and discriminating against those who participate in them.

The full letter is available to read here.

The signatories to the letter are:

Islamic Human Rights Commission

Jewish Network for Palestine

Convivencia Alliance

Ahlulbayt Islamic Mission

5 Pillars


Muslim Public Affairs Committee

Scotland Against Criminalising Communities

InMinds Human Rights Group

Fight Racism! Fight Imperialism!


Scottish Palestine Solidarity Campaign

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