A British government minister has cast doubt on the likelihood of a full ban being imposed on the Hezbollah terrorist group, the Jewish Chronicle reported on Tuesday.
London Mayor Sadiq Khan, as well as other figures from the political system, recently urged British Home Secretary Amber Rudd to fully ban Hezbollah. A loophole in the current British law blacklists only Hezbollah’s “military wing” and not its so-called “political wing”.
The demand came after flags of the terror group were openly flown during a recent Al-Quds Day parade in London, with police taking no action.
But Nick Hurd, the British Police Minister, told a Labour MP who raised concerns about the Al Quds Day rally that the law allowed such activity as part of “peaceful protest”, according to the Jewish Chronicle.
He said demonstrators would only be committing an offence if “the context and manner in which the flag is displayed” proved the activists were waving them “specifically in support” of the already banned section of Hezbollah.
In a letter seen by the Chronicle, Hurd deflected responsibility for dealing with the fallout of last month’s protest to the Metropolitan Police, and gave no indication of a potential change in the law to ban Hezbollah supporters from the streets of Britain.
Labour Friends of Israel (LFI) said Hurd’s comments were a “weak defense of the status quo” from the government.
Jennifer Gerber, LFI director, said, “Sadly, the government’s initial promise of action appears to have been replaced by a weak defense of the status quo and a total failure to recognize the deep hurt both to the Jewish community, and to London as a whole, caused by the flying of flags belonging to an anti-Semitic terror group on the streets of the capital.”
“As LFI and Sadiq Khan have demanded, the Home Secretary should act immediately to close the loophole in the law, proscribe Hezbollah in its entirety and thus allow the police to ensure we never again witness this abhorrent sight," she added.
Under the Terrorism Act 2000, Hezbollah’s “political wing” is banned in this country. But the organization makes no distinction itself between its two wings, and both are represented by the same emblem which includes an assault rifle being brandished. It is this image on flags waved during the Al Quds march which have stoked anger in the Jewish community, noted The Chronicle.
In 2013, the European Union similarly blacklisted Hezbollah's “military wing” as a terrorist organization, while failing to blacklist the group’s political arm.
In contrast, several Arab countries have blacklisted the Hezbollah organization in its entirety. Bahrain in April of 2013 became the first Arab country to blacklist the group as a terrorist organization.
Members of Congress in the United States have urged the EU to designate all branches of Hezbollah as a terror group – a demand which makes sense given that Hezbollah parliamentarians have been caught on camera calling for terror against Israelis.