Several hundred people attended a protest outside the Egyptian and Turkish embassies on Saturday organised by Hizb ut-Tahrir, and a handful were filmed shouting “jihad” when asked by a speaker what should be done to “liberate people in the concentration camp called Palestine”.
Scotland Yard said its specialist counterterrorism officers had assessed the footage and did not identify any offences, with the force pointing out that the word “jihad” has numerous meanings.
But the Met said officers would be visiting the speaker to “discourage any repeat of similar chanting”, in recognition of “the way language like this will be interpreted by the public and the divisive impact it will have”.
However, Ms Braverman is expected to raise the incident at a scheduled meeting on Monday with the Met Commissioner to discuss the ongoing protests sparked by the war between Israel and Hamas, after militants burst through the Gaza border on 7 October and massacred some 1,400 Israelis.
“The home secretary is already due to meet the Metropolitan Police commissioner tomorrow [Monday] to discuss the ongoing Israel-Gaza protests and will be asking for an explanation over the response to incidents which took place on Saturday,” a source close to Ms Braverman told multiple outlets.
“There can be no place for incitement to hatred or violence on Britain’s streets and, as the home secretary has made clear, the police are urged to crack down on anyone breaking the law.”
Earlier on Sunday, immigration minister Robert Jenrick said: “I think a lot of people would find the Metropolitan Police analysis surprising, and that’s something that we intend to raise with them and to discuss this incident with them.”
But Britain’s former head of counter-terrorism policing Neil Basu retorted that the government had been previously told about gaps in UK law which allowed words such as “jihad” to be shouted at rallies – but that ministers did not act to close them.
In 2021, Sir Mark himself co-authored a report for the commission on countering extremism, which warned ministers of a “gaping chasm” in laws allowing “extremists to operate with impunity”.
Following Mr Jenrick’s remarks, Mr Basu told The Guardian: “Your eyes were opened to the glaring anomaly in the law. You did not take it up at the time and it is worth revisiting.
“For the government and ministers to attack the Met is thus unjustified,” he added. “The police need support at this challenging time. If the government don’t like the law, it can change it, as it has been asked to do.”
The meaning of jihad is interpreted as “exerted effort” or struggle by most Islamic sholars. This can commonly refer to a believer’s internal struggle for self-improvement, but can also mean a struggle against acts of injustice, which can refer to holy war.
The small protest at the centre of the row between government and the Met was separate from the march which saw an estimated 100,000 people walk through the capital in support of Palestinians under heavy Israeli bombardment in Gaza, where more than 4,300 people have died in the past fortnight.