In the Mayor’s Question Time this morning, London Mayor Sadiq Khan refused to back a request from UKIP Assembly Member David Kurten to call for the political wing of Hezbollah to be proscribed as a terrorist organisation.
Kurten asked the question in the discussion following Assembly member 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?’
Hezbollah flags were reportedly flown at the Al Quds Day march which many Londoners have found distressing in the light of recent terrorist atrocities around the world.
Kurten also made the point that currently only the military wing and not the political wing of Hezbollah have been proscribed, 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…’
Kurten 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...’
Ex-PM Cameron called for such a move in 2008 which would have brought UK policy on proscribing the whole of Hezbollah in line with the USA, France, the Netherlands, Australia and Canada, but never implemented the move. Such a step from the UK would also be in line with the Gulf Cooperation Council (the Political Union of the Gulf States) and the Arab League (representing 22 Arab nations) who now consider Hezbollah in its entirety a terrorist organisation.
UKIP’s other London Assembly member Peter Whittle joined Kurten in calling on new Prime Minister Theresa May for Hezbollah to be proscribed in its entirety.
Kurten adds: “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.”