London’s new and first Muslim mayor Sadiq Khan has refused to back a request for the terrorist outfit Hezbollah to be a proscribed organisation.
Following a question from UK Independence Party (UKIP) London Assembly member David Kurten, Mr. Khan said that he would not back a ban on the group which has recently had supporters and sympathisers protesting with its famous yellow jihadi flag at ‘Al Quds Day’ in London.
Mr. Kurten asked the question in the discussion following Assembly member Kemi Badenoch’s question: “What action is the Metropolitan Police Service taking against the use of flags representing designated terrorist organisations as seen during the recent al-Quds Day march in London on July 3rd?”
While Mr. Khan said he understood “the concerns of the Jewish community, and the distress these flags cause many Londoners”, he also said “It would not be appropriate… to comment on an ongoing police investigation” and that he would not commit to pushing for a ban on the “political wing” of Hezbollah.
A common misconception about the terror group which is deeply entrenched in both Europe and the Americas is that there is a tangible difference between a “military” or terrorist wing and the group’s political arm. In Lebanon, Hezbollah has 12 member of parliament and takes two seats in the cabinet of the government.
The group is designated as a terror group in its entirety by the Arab League, Bahrain, Canada, France, Israel, the Netherlands, and the United States.
But the European Union, as well as the United Kingdom maintain a difference between the group’s military and political wings, seeking only to proscribe the former.
The Hezbollah flags, which were flown at the Al Quds Day march, do not distinguish between two “wings” and the two “wings” both report to the same group leadership in terror chief Hassan Nasrallah.
Mr. Kurten made this point, and asked if this was the reason why the Metropolitan Police Service is not able to intervene when Hezbollah flags are flown. The Mayor admitted this was the case saying “…you’re right…”.
He then asked the Mayor if he would call for the political wing of Hezbollah to be proscribed to bring the UK into line with many other nations. The Mayor responded negatively saying: “That’s not what I’ve committed to…”
UKIP’s other London Assembly member Peter Whittle joined Mr. Kurten in calling on new Prime Minister Theresa May for Hezbollah to be proscribed in its entirety.
Mr Kurten added after the event: “The number one duty of the Mayor is to ensure that Londoners are safe. It is astonishing that in the current climate the Mayor did not call for a blanket ban of Hezbollah, and did not oppose this loophole which is both frightening to many Londoners and also potentially encourages violent hate crime. I hope that on reflection that he will change his mind.”