British Home Secretary Suella Braverman is under fire for her characterisation of pro-Palestine demonstrators as “hate marchers” and her accusation of double standards against the police. Massive protests against Israel’s Gaza bombing have swept London over the past month, with thousands urging the UK government to call for a ceasefire.
The planned protest for this Saturday coincides with Armistice weekend, an annual remembrance of World War I. Despite government pressure, the Metropolitan Police stated they couldn’t legally ban the march due to insufficient intelligence of a potential public disorder risk.
Braverman, in a rare move, criticised the police on Wednesday, claiming they were more lenient towards pro-Palestinian demonstrations and treating right-wing and nationalist protests differently. She asserted that the marches were not just expressions of solidarity with Gaza but assertions of importance, particularly by certain groups like Islamists, drawing parallels with Northern Ireland and accusing some organisers of having links to terrorist groups.
Her comments faced heavy criticism from opposition politicians and activists who accused her of undermining respect for the police and inflaming community tensions. Some suggested she was exploiting the moment for personal political gain, positioning herself for a potential party leadership contest.
Despite Prime Minister Rishi Sunak initially deeming the protests on Armistice weekend disrespectful, he backtracked after meeting with police chief Mark Rowley, acknowledging the right to peaceful protest. Critics, including actor and comedian Adil Ray, found Braverman’s column astonishing, emphasising the irony of the home secretary inflaming tensions during a sensitive time.