London Police Declare Calling for Jihad Is Lawful as Word has ‘Number of Meanings’

LONDON, UNITED KINGDOM - OCTOBER 14, 2023: A large group of police officers stands between
Wiktor Szymanowicz/Future Publishing via Getty Images

London’s Metropolitan Police have come under criticism for their seemingly lax approach towards pro-Palestine demonstrations and for giving excuses for those calling for “jihad” against Israel on the streets of the British capital.

An estimated 100,000 anti-Israel protesters took to the streets of London on Saturday. Ahead of the demonstration, the Met police warned activists that they may face arrest if they were seen to be supporting proscribed terror groups like Hamas.

However, while several people were arrested and some investigations continue, the police force drew considerable backlash for appearing to excuse calls for jihad.

Responding to footage of a speaker calling for jihad while standing in front of a placard calling on the “Muslim armies” of the world to attack Israel, the Met said on X: “The word jihad has a number of meanings but we know the public will most commonly associate it with terrorism.

“We have specialist counter-terrorism officers here in the operations room who have particular knowledge in this area. They have assessed this video, filmed at the Hizb ut-Tahrir protest in central London today, and have not identified any offences arising from the specific clip.

“However, recognising the way language like this will be interpreted by the public and the divisive impact it will have, officers have identified the man involved and will be speaking to him shortly to discourage any repeat of similar chanting.”

Yet users on social media noted that the Metropolitan Police’s own hate crime guide states: “The offence of incitement to hatred occurs when someone acts in a way that is threatening and intended to stir up hatred… Hate content may include: messages calling for violence against a specific person or group.”

While the Arabic word literally translates to “struggle” and has been used in other, more peaceful contexts, observers noted that the context of the call for jihad on Saturday in London was a literal war cry against Israel.

Journalist Andy Ngo, who covered the London rally on Saturday, said: “I was there and the speaker was specifically talking about getting military leaders and countries to mobilize armies of Muslims to go to Palestinian territories to assist the mujahideen (those who do jihad) against Israel in a holy battle for Islam.”

The post has received widespread derision, with author Douglas Murray writing: “Yes, oh Imam of the Met Police. Those guys definitely looked like they were calling for an intense inner spiritual struggle. Got it in one.”

Political commentator Darren Grimes added: “Shouting ‘Jihad! Jihad! Jihad!’ won’t get you arrested in Britain, but telling a copper that they look like your lesbian nan as a teenager will see six officers pound your door down.”

The actions of the police have also drawn criticism from the government, with immigration minister Robert Jenrick saying that the government is planning on reviewing the reasoning behind announcing that chants of jihad were lawful on British streets.

“I think a lot of people would find the Metropolitan Police analysis surprising and that’s something we intend to raise with them and to discuss this incident with them,” Jenrick told LBC radio on Sunday morning.

“I don’t think that there’s any place for chants of ‘jihad’ on the streets of Britain, I think that’s totally unacceptable,” the government minister added.

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