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Braverman to meet Met chief Rowley over Gaza protest

Suella Braverman will demand an explanation from Scotland Yard chief Sir Mark Rowley over the handling of pro-Palestine protesters chanting “jihad”.

The Home Secretary will make clear the police should “crack down on anyone breaking the law”.

The force said no offences were identified in a video of a Hizb ut-Tahrir protest showing a man chanting “jihad” in London on Saturday.

Home Office minister Robert Jenrick said chanting the word on the streets of the capital is “inciting terrorist violence”.

Sir Mark was already scheduled to meet the Home Secretary on Monday.

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A source close to Mrs Braverman said: “The Home Secretary is already due to meet the Metropolitan Police commissioner tomorrow to discuss the ongoing Israel-Gaza protests and will be asking for an explanation over the response to incidents which took place on Saturday.

“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.”

Immigration minister Mr Jenrick said “a lot of people” will find the Met’s analysis “surprising”, adding: “That’s something that we intend to raise with them and to discuss this incident with them.”

A video posted on social media shows a man speaking into a microphone in front of a banner reading “Muslim Armies! Rescue the People of Palestine”.

The main speaker asks: “What is the solution to liberate people from the concentration camp called Palestine?”

A man standing to the side of the speaker, but neither on a platform nor speaking into the microphone, can then be heard chanting words including “jihad”, as can some others attending the protest.

The Met responded to the post on social media, saying the word “jihad” has “a number of meanings”, and that specialist counter-terrorism officers had not identified any offences arising from the specific clip filmed in central London.

Other clips posted on social media from the same protest show speakers using the microphone to speak about a “solution” of “jjhad”.

Mr Jenrick was asked about the incident and wider concerns around protests related to the Israel-Hamas conflict on Sky’s Sunday Morning With Trevor Phillips.

He told the programme: “Chanting ‘jihad’ on the streets of London is completely reprehensible and I never want to see scenes like that. It is inciting terrorist violence and it needs to be tackled with the full force of the law.

“Ultimately, it’s an operational matter for the police and the CPS (Crown Prosecution Service) whether to press charges.”

He added: “Arrests have been made… There have been arrests since the beginning of this situation… There have been arrests under terrorist legislation. And we want to do everything that we can to protect British Jews.

“But this is a broader question beyond just legality. It also is a question about values. And there should be a consensus in this country that chanting things like ‘jihad’ is completely reprehensible and wrong and we don’t ever want to see that in our country.”

He told LBC: “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 he stressed again “the legality is ultimately a question for the police and the CPS”.

Mayor of London Sadiq Khan said: “The vast majority of yesterday’s protests were peaceful, but I’m aware of some disturbing and offensive comments.

“The Met’s investigations are ongoing, and I remain in close contact with the Met Commissioner.

“London has a zero-tolerance approach to hate crime. If anyone has broken the law, strong action will be taken against them.”

Jewish safety organisation the Community Security Trust criticised the Met, saying that “in trying to communicate complex and nuanced legal issues” on social media “they gave the impression of legitimising obnoxious and hateful behaviour that may or may not be criminal but nevertheless causes profound concern to British Jews and many other people”.

The Met said in a statement on Saturday: “In addition to officers deployed with the protest, we have counter-terrorism officers with specialist language skills and subject expertise working alongside public order officers in our main operations room, assessing any video and photos that emerge.

“They have reviewed a video from the Hizb ut-Tahrir protest in which a man can be seen to chant ‘Jihad, jihad’.

“The word has a number of meanings but we know the public will most commonly associate it with terrorism.

“Specialist officers have assessed the video and have not identified any offences arising from the specific clip. We have also sought advice from specialist Crown Prosecution Service lawyers, who have reached the same conclusion.

“However, recognising the way language like this will be interpreted by the public and the divisive impact it will have, officers identified the man involved and spoke to him to discourage any repeat of similar chanting.”

Jihad can mean struggle or effort, but it has also been taken to refer to holy war.

In a message on the Hizb ut-Tahrir website, explaining why it decided to hold demonstrations on Saturday outside the Egyptian and Turkish Embassies in London, the group said Palestinians have been subject to “brutal oppression” and called on Egypt and Turkey to unite in “rescuing their Palestinian brothers and sisters”.