There are plans for another march this weekend.
Writing in the Times of London on Thursday, Suella Braverman, Britain’s home secretary, said she did not “believe that these marches are merely a cry for help for Gaza.” Instead, she said, they were an “assertion of primacy by certain groups — particularly Islamists.”
She accused the police of playing favorites when policing protests, saying that right-wing and nationalist protesters are “rightly met with a stern response,” while “pro-Palestinian mobs displaying almost identical behaviour are largely ignored, even when clearly breaking the law.”
She continued: “Unfortunately, there is a perception that senior police officers play favourites when it comes to protesters. During Covid, why was it that lockdown objectors were given no quarter by public order police yet Black Lives Matters demonstrators were enabled, allowed to break rules and even greeted with officers taking the knee?”
Opposition lawmakers called for Braverman to be fired over the rhetoric, which they say has increased the likelihood of unrest this weekend.
A pro-Palestinian rally is scheduled for Saturday, which is also Armistice Day, when the U.K. will honor service members killed in conflicts since World War I.
The pro-Palestinian protesters, who are calling for an immediate cease-fire in the Israel-Gaza war, will start at Hyde Park and then cross the River Thames and make their way to the U.S. Embassy. Their planned route does not overlap with the remembrance services near Downing Street.
European bans on pro-Palestinian protests prompt claims of bias
British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak said the march planned for Armistice Day was “disrespectful” and said he would hold Mark Rowley, the London police chief, “accountable” for his decision to greenlight the demonstration. The police chief said banning the protest would require intelligence that suggests serious disorder is likely, which the agency doesn’t have.
Yvette Cooper, Braverman’s counterpart in the opposition Labour Party, wrote on social media that the home secretary was “out of control” and that it was a “highly irresponsible, dangerous attempt to undermine respect for police at a sensitive time, to rip up operational independence & to inflame community tensions. No other Home Secretary of any party would ever do this.”