A British lawmaker is considering blocking a pro-Palestinian London event because of alleged support by the organizers for terror organizations, including Hamas and Hezbollah.
According to a report in The Guardian on Sunday, Community Secretary Sajid Javid informed Friends of Al-Aqsa earlier this month that he was considering canceling their two-day summit over “concerns that your organization and those connected with it have expressed public support for a proscribed organization, namely Hamas, and that you have supported events at which Hamas and Hezbollah — also proscribed — have been praised.”
The organization’s Palestine Expo, which is due to begin on July 8, was to have been one of the biggest pro-Palestinian events in Europe. It is planned to be held in the QE2 Centre, which is managed by Javid’s department.
Javid was expected to make a final decision on the matter on Friday, but his office said the lawmaker was busy attending events in the wake of the Grenfell Tower fire disaster.
Ismail Patel, the founder of Friends of Al-Aqsa and organizer of the expo, accused Javid of giving in to Israeli pressure. “They have failed to provide any satisfactory reason as to why they have chosen to cancel an event which seeks to celebrate Palestinian culture and heritage,” he said.
The two-day event on five floors of the exhibition center was slated to have speakers talk about the “facts” of “Israeli occupation of Palestine” and events as well as food, shopping and activities connected to the Palestinians.
Although organizers said they expected some 10,000 people to attend the expo, so far they have only sold some 2,000 tickets, partly due to the threat of cancellation, according to The Guardian.
Patel threatened legal action if the event doesn’t go ahead.
“Despite the threat… we will make further efforts to hold Palestine Expo and will seek a judicial review of this unfair and unjust decision,” he said.
The organizers have set up a crowdfunding site to pay for their legal fees in challenging the “false accusations,” and raised over £30,000 ($38,000) of their £50,000 ($64,000) target.
Friends of Al-Aqsa is described by the Meir Amit Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center as “a pro-Hamas British organization based in Leicester which advocates Israel’s elimination.”
Javid has said in the past that his family has Muslim heritage, but he does not identify with any religion. At a Conservative Friends of Israel lunch in 2012, the Jewish Chronicle quoted him as saying that “if he had to leave Britain to live in the Middle East, then he would choose Israel as home. Only there, he said, would his children feel the ‘warm embrace of freedom and liberty.'”