Fri. Feb 23rd, 2024

There has been a 1,353% increase in antisemitic offences and a 140% rise in Islamophobic offences between 1 and 18 October, the Metropolitan Police has said.

Some 218 anti-Jewish hate crimes, compared to 15 in the same period last year, have been recorded by the force, while offences targeting Muslims were up from 42 to 101.

Deputy Assistant Commissioner Ade Adelekan said: “It is not acceptable and I promise we will investigate.”

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The Met has made 21 hate crime arrests, including a man this week held on suspicion of defacing posters of missing Israelis in Camden, north London, and another man held over 10 incidents of alleged Islamophobic graffiti on bus stops in New Malden and Raynes Park, southwest London.

It comes amid increasing tensions in the UK sparked by the Israel-Hamas war with another large pro-Palestine protest planned on Saturday, where more than 1,000 officers will be deployed.

Last weekend’s demonstration saw a stage erected near the Cenotaph in Whitehall, which attracted heavy criticism, and police said the platform will be instead set up in nearby King Charles Street.

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There will also be restrictions in place around the Israeli embassy, police said.

DAC Adelekan said people chanting, “from the river to the sea, Palestine will be free” used in the wider protest this weekend will likely “not be an offence and would not result in arrest”.

The controversial slogan is a call to end the Israeli occupation of the West Bank for some people but to others, including many Jewish groups, it is seen as antisemitic.

“We are well aware of the strength of feeling in relation to it,” said DAC Adelekan. “We can see scenarios where chanting these words would be unlawful, such as outside a synagogue or a Jewish school of the other Jewish person or group intending to intimidate.”

Police said there were 15 arrests at last Saturday’s protest, while Commander Dominic Murphy said one person was held on Tuesday under Section 12 of the Terrorism Act on suspicion of supporting a proscribed group.

He was arrested at a demonstration carrying a banner allegedly in support of Hamas, which was banned as a terrorist group in its entirety in 2001.

Commander Murphy said almost 1,400 referrals have been made to the online counter-terrorism unit, with more than 100 requiring further investigation to see if there was any breach of the Terrorism Act.

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