By John Ensor •
Updated: 24 Oct 2023 • 1:25
LONDON’S Metropolitan Police, caught up in the middle of opposing views, have been slammed for their handling of last weekend’s protest on behalf of the crisis in Gaza.
One of the main criticisms is the Met’s seemingly blasé attitude the the use of the word jihad. But what does the word jihad actually mean, and can there ever be a peaceful solution?
In Arabic, the word ‘Jihad’ literally means ‘struggle’ or ‘effort.’ Historically, it has been used within Islam to describe both an inner spiritual struggle and an outer physical struggle.
However, in modern times, the term has been co-opted by extremist groups to mean ‘holy war,’ which is not its original or primary meaning. This extremist interpretation has led to the association of the term with terrorism in the minds of many people throughout the world.
Video footage from the recent march in London focused on one man in particular. Armed with a microphone, he addressed the crowd: ‘What is the solution to liberate people from the concentration camp of Palestine?’ The unanimous response from those gathered was one word: ‘Jihad!’
Some would argue it is an expression of a spiritual or political struggle against oppression, while others might view it as incitement or a call to violence, especially given the term’s association with extremist actions, and the fact that the speaker also pointed to a banner which read ‘Muslim Armies. Rescue the people of Palestine.’
A Police spokesperson commented: ‘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 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.’
The official Metropolitan Police definition of a hate crime is: ‘Hate crime is committed against someone through prejudice or hatred.
‘This could be due to: Disability, race, faith, sexual orientation, gender identity.’ It concludes: ‘ It can include: Physical assault, damage to property, offensive graffiti, inciting hatred online.’
Robert Jenrick, the minister for immigration saw things differently: ‘Chanting Jihad on the streets of London is completely unacceptable … it needs to be tackled with the full strength of the law.’
They also came under fire from the editor of the Jewish Chronicle, Stephen Pollard : ‘Look at the video this is responding to. As I keep saying, the Metropolitan Police aren’t part of the solution. They are part of the problem. As we know in other contexts, something has gone very wrong with the Met.’
The police on the ground face a difficult task, with some evidence only uncovered after the event. One sign held aloft by one protester, ‘I fully support Hamas,’ gathered significant interest.
On the Met’s online platform X, regarding the Hamas sign they stated: ‘Our PublicOrder crime team has been working hard over the last two days and are asking for your assistance.
‘This image has been sent into us and was taken on Bond Street W1 yesterday [October 21]. Were you there? Did you see who was holding this sign? We really appreciate your help.’
Historically, the Jewish community has faced persecution throughout the world. But the recent conflict in the middle east has seen a rise in incidents, particularly in London.
A surge in related protests, expressions of solidarity, and, unfortunately, acts of discrimination or violence have been witnessed against both Jewish and Muslim communities.
Given the current tensions, promoting peace, understanding, and dialogue is essential. While individuals might have strong feelings about international conflicts, it’s vital to approach such topics with empathy and a desire for a peaceful resolution.
But, behind the scenes the Metropolitan Police are also taking the lead in trying to open up dialogue between both communities: ‘We will continue to listen to and speak with religious and faith leaders and their congregations about their concerns and the work we are doing to keep local communities safe.’
Rabbi Herschel Gluck, founder of the Muslim-Jewish Foundation and Bibi Khan, President of the London Islamic Cultural Society, have both spoken about the recent rise in hate crime towards members of their respective communities in London.
On behalf of the Muslim community, Ms Khan said: ‘So as you will appreciate, many of us suffer hate crime. Some of it is verbal, some of it is actually attacks and some of it is just items thrown at the mosque.
‘In order for people to feel protected and that the Metropolitan Police would listen, we hold roadshows. We have the officers come and stand here and meet.’
During last week which was actually National Hate Crime Awareness Week (October 14–21), Khan added that her community had held a series of events.
Ms Khan commented that they were ‘very fortunate to have a wonderful Safer Neighbourhood team. This has been growing for very many years. And right now we have some excellent officers who take an interest in the centre, its people, its children.’
Rabbi Gluck also explained the situation from the Jewish standpoint: ‘Recently we had a number of our schools damaged with red paint.’ he went on to explain that he has recently had meetings with senior officers from the Metropolitan Police, ‘to discuss issues in play, to discuss the atmosphere, to discuss potential threats.’
He added that the meetings were ‘very positive, constructive and meaningful. We dealt with real issues. Our relationship with the Met is always very close and intimate, especially in the present time especially with the tensions in the Middle East, it is even closer, and we’re working hand in glove with the Met.
Thank you for taking the time to read this article. Do remember to come back and check The Euro Weekly News website for all your up-to-date local and international news stories and remember, you can also follow us on Facebook and Instagram.
Share this story
Subscribe to our Euro Weekly News alerts to get the latest stories into your inbox!
By signing up, you will create a Euro Weekly News account if you don't already have one. Review our
Originally from Doncaster, Yorkshire, John now lives in Galicia, Northern Spain with his wife Nina.
He is passionate about news, music, cycling and animals.
The Metropolitan police were derelict in their duty. There is NO place for people calling for Jihad anywhere in the civilised world.
Comments are closed.
Download our media pack in either English or Spanish.