UK Palestine Groups To Defy Suella Braverman’s Crackdown

Yves here. In classic “never let a crisis go to waste” fashion, Home Secretary Suella Braverman is strongly urging UK police to arrest protestors who wave the Palestinian flag or voice pro-Palestine chants. Last I checked, Palestine was not Hamas nor had Hamas to my knowledge, despite its run of heinous conduct, threatened the UK or even Israel citizens living in the UK. The logic of her objection reads as astonishingly strained but perhaps the Public Order Act is so sweeping as to allow for interpretations like that.

By Nandini Archer, an active member of the feminist direct action group Sisters Uncut who previously worked with the International Campaign for Women’s Right to Safe Abortion, and Anita Mureithi, a reporter at openDemocracy. Originally published at openDemocracy

Palestine solidarity groups in London have told openDemocracy they will “fly their flags high” this weekend, despite Suella Braverman ordering police to crack down on their protests.

The home secretary suggested that waving Palestinian flags and using popular pro-Palestine slogans could be illegal under the Public Order Act in a letter to police chiefs in England and Wales on Tuesday.

Campaigners said the letter had set a “dangerous precedent” in denying democratic rights, but that they still expected “tens of thousands” to march through the capital in support of Palestine on Saturday. It comes as Israel lays siege to Gaza in the wake of an unprecedented attack by Hamas at the weekend.

The director of Palestine Solidarity Campaign, one of the six groups organising the rally, branded Braverman’s letter an “assault on the basic right of British citizens to show solidarity for the Palestinian people’s legitimate desire to have their rights realised”.

Speaking to this website, Ben Jamal added that police officers enacting Braverman’s orders would be denying “the right of Palestinians to fly a flag which is the symbol both of their nationhood and struggle for liberation”.

Ismail Patel, chair of Friends of Al-Aqsa, another of the protest’s co-organisers, also pointed out that protesters who stood against the British government’s war against Afghanistan and Iraq “were never obstructed from voicing our opinions like this”.

Patel called for “people to join the protest in London on Saturday with Palestinian flags held high”.

In her letter, Braverman encouraged police “to consider whether chants such as ‘From the river to the sea, Palestine will be free’ should be understood as an expression of a violent desire to see Israel erased from the world, and whether its use in certain contexts may amount to a racially aggravated section 5 public order offence”.

Such offences are punishable by fines of up to £2,500 or up to two years in prison.

Braverman also instructed police to consider the “context” of a person waving a Palestinian flag, saying it may be “legitimate in some circumstances”, but that it could also be “intended to glorify acts of terrorism”.

Sam Fowles of Cornerstone Barristers told openDemocracy he expected to see a rise in arrests at Palestine solidarity protests as a result.

“People like myself and others warned that if MPs voted for the Public Order Act, then there was the potential that the politicians or police could simply use those powers to just shut down any sort of protest that they didn’t like, for political reasons. And that seems to be what’s happening here,” he said.

Kate Hudson, general secretary of the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament, another group organising the march on Saturday, said it is of “great concern to our democracy” that the “political views of the government should entitle them to suppress legitimate views”.

“Freedom of speech, the right to protest – that can’t be allowed to be eroded… Everyone will lose if democratic freedoms are worn away,” she said.

Three arrests were made earlier in the week at another large protest outside the Israeli embassy.

In a statement about the arrests released before Braverman’s letter was published, the Metropolitan Police said “the waving of a particular flag is not, in itself, a specific criminal offence unless it relates to a proscribed organisation”.

It added that it was “balancing the right to lawful protest against any disruption to Londoners, while ensuring all communities are supported and reassured”.

The London Muslim Community Foundation, which represents 1.3 million Muslims, said it was last night reassured by senior Met officers that the Palestinian flag was not a proscribed terrorist flag, in an indicator of a possible split between the Home Office and police leadership.

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  1. The Rev Kev

    This sort of stuff is going on everywhere. Well, everywhere in Collective West countries. In Oz, the police are refusing to give a permit for a second rally in support of Palestine but they are determined to go ahead anyway. In Germany a teacher took offense at a student holding up a Palestinian flag in the playground and confronted that teenager. It ended when the teacher slapped that kid across the face so the kid kicked him in the stomach. Police attended but I think that neither was arrested. Meanwhile, good old Henry Kissinger has come out and said that the European nations made ‘a grave mistake to let in so many people of totally different cultural and religious concepts because it creates a pressure group inside each country that does that.’ What he meant by that was that ‘those people’ should not have been allowed to celebrate the Palestinians because it caused him pain to see this happening-

    For Henry it is always the 70s for him. The Ukrainian war has led to a push for censorship so perhaps the Gaza war will led to a push to ban protest movement because, you know, ‘western values.’

    1. flora

      ‘ Meanwhile, good old Henry Kissinger has come out and said that the European nations made ‘a grave mistake to let in so many people of totally different cultural and religious concepts because it creates a pressure group inside each country that does that.’ ‘

      Ah, Henry. And who was it via the WEF encouraging open borders, pray tell? Henry is a shrewd old fox, he’s able to change his story on a dime. / my 2 cents.

      1. Piotr Berman

        Perhaps Kissinger was not involved in that. In any case, Europe received backlash effect from several wars that Europe could either prevent or contribute to a better resolution, and utter destruction of law and order in Libya that no longer suffers a centralized dictatorship, and serves as a proof of Hobbes dictum.

        Moreover, Europe enjoyed a period of considerable influence in Sahel Africa without ANY improvements in economy and governance.

        1. JBird4049

          Honestly, I would not listen too much to His Darkness Henry Kissinger especially after his warcrimes in Cambodia and Laos, and his crimes against humanity in East Timor, Chile, and Indonesia. Then there is Operation Condor.

          The man spent around fifteen years assisting with one massacre, bloody coup, or junta after another. His personal body county is at least as great as the Turks with there several genocides of the Greeks, Armenians, Kurds, and Turkmen although not as great as individual Nazis, or Soviets and Communist Chinese official, not that is saying much. He is lauded and listened to as an elder great statesman. Hillary Clinton’s guru. I sometimes wished for an afterlife with God’s judgement just so he could face the judgement he sorely deserves.

          I’m sorry, but hearing about him pushes my berserk button especially as it is people like him with their particularly vile form of realpolitik that has created the current world. What Netanyahu was doing was going to create blowback as people tend to want to die on their feet instead of on their needs given time to think about it. What the leaders of Hamas have done has created the obvious results. Piles of bodies for nothing. So many people with so much knowledge making the “hard choices,” but with so little wisdom or even foresight.

    2. Irrational

      The French are threatening to jail “Hamas sympathizers” for 5 years. You can have any opinion you like in our beautiful European garden, so long as it is the right opinion /s

      1. Foreign Policy Speculator

        They can threaten whatever the hell they want. If they are truly stupid enough to act upon these threats, though, the government, who currently lacks support among just about every faction within the public, will fall.

    3. Alan Roxdale

      The western governing class has completed its phase transition to authoritarianism. There are still a few rainbow flags and climate proposals floating about, but the mixture will settle into brutal corporate oligarchy soon I think. There will be no blowback as the youth are somaticised.

      1. Piotr Berman

        On one hand, one can imagine “rainbow fascism”, both LGBT+ and “Net-Zero” could form a basis to define “intolerable beliefs and behavior”, hatred of wrong doers with repressions to follow. You can progress toward totalitarianism using almost any packet of ideas. So adoption of LGBT+ and Net-Zero is not a marker of non-authoritarianism.

        But repressions, so far, are mostly mild, so pessimistically they can be viewed as a slide that extends down all the way to a dictatorship of “1000 approved organizations”.

    4. Polar Socialist

      Henry Kissinger has come out and said that the European nations made ‘a grave mistake to let in so many people of totally different cultural and religious concepts

      I saw Martyanov say something similarly stupid recently.

      As a food for though, EU still has three times more left handed people than Muslims and the society at large is designed for righties. 87% of the EU population supports “strong climate action”, and yet nothing but hand-waving is done is this regard.

      But we’re to believe that a very diverse economic diaspora of Muslims consisting of less than 5% of the population could all of a sudden manage to take advantage of the totally broken Western Democracy and make it work for them? Yeah, sure.

  2. TimH

    This power too:

    Removing someone’s British citizenship, also known as deprivation of citizenship, is used against those who obtained citizenship by fraud and against the most dangerous people, such as terrorists, extremists…

    Deprivation of citizenship where it is conducive to the public good is reserved for those who pose a threat to the UK or whose conduct involves very high harm, for example in response to activities such as those involving:
    …unacceptable behaviour such as the ‘glorification’ of terrorism

    1. JBird4049

      So, even a citizen by birth can have his citizenship taken and then deported because of some unknown bureaucrat? You said naughty words, off you go?

      1. french75

        Those are the refugees I want.

        Give me your silenced, your bold,
        Your outspoken minds wanting tales to be told,
        The daring artists from your distant land,
        Send these, the meme-lords, with humor in hand,
        I light the web with freedom’s torch, so grand!

        Give me your thinkers, your free,
        Your wild creatives seeking spaces to be,
        The edge-riders, defying each norm,
        Send these, the restless, to weather the storm,
        I raise my flag where true voices perform!

    2. Mark A

      They’ve removed somebody’s citizenship since they left home at 15 to join ISIS / was trafficked at 15? Who knows, either way our govt doesn’t care they’ve just got to act tough.

  3. Rip Van Winkle

    Speaking for myself, and not necessarily for all of the hicks in double-wides outside of French Lick in Flyover, I will mention Washington’s warning about entangling alliances / interference by foreign powers and Quincy Adams about not going abroad to slay monsters. The U.S. entering WWI was most disastrous and is still playing out; always favorable for the banking interests.

    Thank goodness my grandparents left the morass of Europe 100 – 130 years ago and never looked back. If I cared to settle old scores on behalf of the Irish side, especially the grandfather from County Donegal, then my sights would be set on London, not Moscow, but i truly don’t care. Likewise about the ones from ‘the Balkans’, as Bismarck referred to them in 1888. However I would hold Bill Clinton and Tony Blair accountable for the 1990s there. I don’t think they could hide out in Serbia OR Croatia today.

    Ipso-fatso, anything in the Middle East and Ukraine can be left up to various dual citizens in the U.S. government and lobbyists, MIC stooges like Lindsey and Nimarata, and nostalgists like Victoria Nuland and Antony Blinken, not me or my kids.

  4. Mennis the Denace

    If waving the Palestinian flag is deemed to be supporting terrorists, waving the American flag should, in the short future, be regarded the same. N’est-ce pas? DJF

    1. JonnyJames

      Oui, Bien sûr, mon ami. The Union Jack and the Canadian Maple Leaf flags as well. As we know, these countries have all been supporting terrorists, hired mercs, Ukrainian Nazis etc. Mass murdering 100s of thousands of people and starving hundreds of thousands more to death is the reign of terror. Apparently, the price is worth it.

  5. Colonel Smithers

    Thank you, Yves.

    No one should be surprised by anything Braverman does. She’s just continuing the work her father’s family did in Kenya, empire’s dirty work. Her mother is from Mauritius and part of the wannabe Hindutva ruling elite that seized control of the island after independence and plays the communal card frequently.

    Braverman comes from NW London, where Hindutva and Zionist communities fraternise. One of her friends, fellow Cambridge alumnus and political soulmate is Alan Mendoza, a leading light in the neo con Henry Jackson Society and former Tory candidate. One can imagine Mendoza egging her on. He’s a piece of work.

    None of this hurts Braverman’s chances in the Tory leadership elections. It will put Labour on the back foot, but Starmer (who admitted to being on a journey to Judaism last year) and his fellow Zionists, including the favourite to succeed Starmer, Wes Streeting, will be more than happy to support. Most of the shadow cabinet and many backbench Labour MPs are in Labour Friends of Israel. Braverman and Mendoza are leading members of the Conservative wing (CFI).

    1. Revenant

      Today I learned a new thing about Keir Starmer.
      This is the first I have heard about his “journey to Judaism”. It puts a new complexion on the ” anti-semite” putsch against Corbyn.

      1. Colonel Smithers

        Thank you.

        His wife Victoria is Jewish. The family observes the Sabbath. They celebrate with her parents on Saturday evenings.

        The interview was in the Jewish Chronicle.

    2. Ignacio

      As I see it, people like Braverman put their “ideology” or, let’s say, their “net of contacts ideology” in a level above UK-constitutional and/or human rights. Am I right? Does the Public Order Act have to comply with constitutional rights? Know nothing on UK’s Constitution and if it sets citizen’s rights.

      1. Joe Well

        “UK Constitution”

        [The UK has an “unwritten constitution,” basically an enormous gentleman’s agreement that means whatever the legal bigwigs say it means, obviously within limits.]

  6. flora

    Thanks for this post. The last para:

    “The London Muslim Community Foundation, which represents 1.3 million Muslims, said it was last night reassured by senior Met officers that the Palestinian flag was not a proscribed terrorist flag, in an indicator of a possible split between the Home Office and police leadership.”

    Dare one hope that common sense is breaking out in the UK?

  7. flora

    France and Germany have also banned pro-Palestinian protests.

    Both countries have experienced large recent immigration waves from the ME due to the ME wars stirred up in the last 20 years.

    1. sharonsj

      Since Jews have lived in the Middle East and North Africa for anywhere from 2500 to 4000 years continuously, they cannot be called settlers. Again, the disputed territories were the Jewish kingdoms of Israel, Judea and Samaria, despite Arabs pretending that Jews never lived there and that archeological ruins and artifacts are “hoaxes.” In Hebron is an ancient building protecting the tombs of the Patriarchs and Matriarchs. Israel wanted to add an elevator so that the tombs could be visited by disabled tourists. The Arabs objected, claiming that the tombs were Muslim holy sites. And who built that building 2000 years ago? Herod, king of the Jews….

      1. Piotr Berman

        According to Jewish legends, Hebrew presence in Palestine was rather episodic, the last hiatus from 140 AD to 1920-ties, except as a small minority with very limited properties. If you limit the time horizon to the last 3000 years, they mostly lived elsewhere. More scientifically, there is not evidence that prior to that period Hebrew speaking people had a separate identity from the rest of Levant (Hebrew-like language was spoken on the entire coastal area, thus Phoenician was very similar), or a separate religion.

        Now imagine Welch diaspora, including Americans claiming at least one Welch female grandparent, coming back to Britania to restore Arthurian Kingdom and managing to expel most of Anglo-Saxon “invaders”, then enclosing the remnants in small enclaves…

        1. jrkrideau

          I believe my family was driven out of Ulster in the 17th C. I am planning to reclaim my rights as an Ulster citizen any day now.

      2. Joe Well

        Since people of European descent have been living in Europe for millennia, no one can complain when a bunch of white Americans invade the Cote d’Azur, force all the locals into Marseille (except for a few with special passes to work as waiters and gardeners) and turn it into an open-air prison.

  8. Nevermore

    No society can survive true free speech.
    West never had free speech, that is why it has lasted as long.
    Unless internet is brought under firm control, it will collapse.

    1. Amfortas the Hippie

      to determine if that statement is true, we’d hafta try it, first.
      we have yet to actually try it…either as a legal doctrine, or as a societal construct.
      we give teary eyed lip service to the idea of free speech…but we’ve never really practiced it.
      the number of times my tongue has been chewed to hamburger is testament enough to this fact.
      in my experience, being heterodox and weird my whole life, it is those who yammer the most about Freedom who are most willing to curtail the freedom of those they dislike.
      and yes, i’ve defended the First Amendment Rights of Klansmen in my time.

      1. Librarian Guy

        Yeah, the ruling PMC only believes in “rights” for the “right” people. There are many status markers to get into that group, since Gulf War One here in the US, you must be pro-“Troops”, pro-Murican flag pins & Empire, & hate all the right “savages.” Borrell’s “Garden v. the Jungle” rant, which I don’t think he’s ever apologized for, gives you the slightly different Euro version which is also on display by this horrible Braverman pod-person.

  9. Willow

    This is a global powder keg.. particularly in Europe. On top of the deep history of the issue, Europeans are now very angry from immigration, COVID, and Russia energy (including broader cost of living) debacles that it won’t take much to set things off. When people are hungry, cold & frustrated it doesn’t take much to spark a French-style revolution. The peasants will revolt. Particularly now when governments are so debt laden that they can’t bribe their way out of the problem as they’ve done in the past.

  10. Foreign Policy Speculator

    Am I the only person noticing the increasing number of “sudden” coordinated public statements from the West, Russia, China, etc talking about the need for a two-state solution?

    I am guessing that Israel might be in deep, deep shit (far deeper than superficially appears), threatening very high escalation, and that there is a coordinated effort from even enemies to find a way to calm the situation down.

    The problem, as is repeatedly brought up, is that the US and EU are agreement incapable.


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