Tower Hamlets council’s decision demonstrates that freedom of expression on Palestine in the UK is now being suppressed

Kamel Hawwash


Tower Hamlets council in London last month prevented a bike ride raising awareness of the plight of the Palestinian people from using space in one of its parks. We now know that the council feared that this advocacy for Palestine would violate the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance’s working definition of antisemitism (UK council refused to host Palestinian event over antisemitism fears, 3 August). This use of the IHRA definition demonstrates the real threat to freedom of expression that it represents, ignoring its protection in our national rights legislation.

Palestinian groups, eminent lawyers, academic experts on antisemitism, prominent British Jews and bodies such as the Institute for Race Relations previously raised these concerns publicly. The rights of all British citizens to accurately describe, inform and convey the reality of ongoing Palestinian dispossession, and to call for action to resist these illegalities, belongs in the public space. All public bodies have an obligation to protect and defend these rights, to maintain democracy.

Tower Hamlets council’s decision dramatically demonstrates that freedom of expression on Palestine in this country is now being suppressed. This is exactly what we and many others have repeatedly warned of. This dangerous silencing now under way must stop.

Prof Kamel Hawwash, Chair, Palestine Solidarity Campaign
Ben Jamal Director, Palestine Solidarity Campaign
Salma Karmi Ayyoub, Barrister and member of British Palestinian Policy Council
Geoffrey Bindman QC, solicitor and visiting professor of law at University College London
Zaher Birawi Chairman, Europal Forum, Prof Izzat Darwazeh University College London
Lindsey German Convener, Stop the War Coalition
Nadia Hijab, Author and human rights advocate
Kate Hudson, General secretary, Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament
Dr Ghada Karmi, Institute of Arab and Islamic Studies, University of Exeter
Mike Leigh, Film writer and director
Leah Levane, Co-chair, Jewish Voice for Labour
Jenny Manson, Co-chair, Jewish Voice for Labour
Kika Markham Actor, Dr Dina Matar Soas University of London
Prof Karma Nabulsi, University of Oxford
Prof Jonathan Rosenhead, London School of Economics
Adnan Sabah, Lawyer
Clare Short, Former Labour MP
Dr Nimer Sultany, Senior lecturer in public law, Soas University of London
Norman Warner, Crossbencher, House of Lords
Mark Serwotka, General secretary, Public and Commercial Services Union

Source: The Guardian

14 Aug 2019

Sign Up