• Sunday, July 14, 2024

HEADLINE STORY

Rishi Sunak calls on pro-Palestinian groups to cancel Armistice Day rally

Met police came under mounting government pressure on Wednesday (8) to ban a pro-Palestinian rally

Prime minister Rishi Sunak (Joe Gidens/Pool via REUTERS)

By: Pramod Thomas

PRIME MINISTER Rishi Sunak has urged pro-Palestinian groups to call off a march against the Israel-Hamas war scheduled to take place in London on Armistice Day.

The organisers of the rally have so far defied pleas from the British capital’s Metropolitan police force to postpone the demonstration planned for this Saturday (11).

Tens of thousands of people are expected to take to the streets to demand an immediate ceasefire in the conflict between Israel and Hamas.

“We continue to believe that planning protests on Armistice Day is provocative and disrespectful, and we urge organisers to reconsider,” Sunak’s spokesman told reporters on Tuesday (7).

He added that the government would “carefully consider any application” from the police to stop the protest from going ahead.

But Metropolitan Police Commissioner Mark Rowley said that according to the law, “there is no absolute power to ban protest,” except in the most extreme cases.

“Therefore there will be a protest this weekend,” he said in a statement.

“At this time, the intelligence surrounding the potential for serious disorder this weekend does not meet the threshold to apply for a ban,” he added.

A number of senior members of Sunak’s ruling Tories have expressed anger at plans for protests on November 11, commemorating the end of fighting in World War I, and the sacrifice of armed forces personnel in all conflicts since 1914.

Sunak’s hardline home secretary Suella Braverman has even branded the protests “hate marches”.

Protest groups have not indicated they plan to march on Remembrance Sunday (12), when solemn ceremonies and two minutes’ silence are held at war memorials up and down the country.

But some fear their Saturday protest will disrupt Sunday’s commemorations.

Organisers have vowed to avoid the Whitehall area of central London where the Cenotaph — the focal point of Remembrance Sunday — is located.

London has seen large demonstrations on four successive weekends since Hamas gunmen on October 7 killed 1,400 people, mostly civilians, and took 240 hostages, according to Israeli officials.

Since then, Israel has relentlessly bombarded the Palestinian territory and sent in ground troops, with the health ministry in Hamas-run Gaza saying more than 10,300 people have been killed.

The Met has made dozens of arrests at the London protests, including for hate crimes. It warned this week: “The risk of violence and disorder linked to breakaway groups (at these protests) is growing.”

(AFP)

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