An open letter to Home Secretary Sajid Javid on Hezbollah flags

Dear Home Secretary,

Congratulations on your appointment as Home Secretary and no doubt, the Windrush issue that has affected the lives of settled British citizens will be the first thing on your work agenda in the Department.

Home Secretary, I was wondering as a British Muslim, and as someone who has campaigned for social justice for years, whether you may also consider the following. All of us know that the Lebanese War ended many years ago and that it was a brutal civil war and one which also involved Lebanese groups, regional players and Israel’s IDF. Terrorism was a part of the collective punishment used against faith groups in Lebanon and which was used by many groups, including the military side of Hezbollah.

Problems in the Middle East should not be a driver for the importation of sectarianism, extremism or hatred into the UK and against sections of our communities. This means that people waving flags by groups whose military wings have used terrorism as a weapon, send out a signal of division, hatred and intolerance towards other British citizens, if they are waved on our streets in the United Kingdom. We simply cannot have this and whilst the military and political elements of Hezbollah may want to give the impression that they are different, one must be talking and engaging with other, since the two cannot act separately.

If I may, Home Secretary, I think that you can see the wider picture on this and such flags with AK47’s emblazoned on them, send out a signal of fear to Jewish communities and especially when they are linked to Al-Quds Day. Whilst people have the right to demonstrate and commemorate around historical events that have meaning to them, they do not have the right to wave aggressive symbols of a group that has used terrorism before in the Middle East. Let us not forget that the former envoy for the Archbishop of Canterbury – Terry Waite, was held for 5 years as a hostage by Hezbollah in 1987.

Home Secretary, this Government, has rightly talked about getting tough on extremism and terrorism. Now is the time to act against groups who have a history of terrorism and violence.


About the Author
Fiyaz is the Founder and Director of Faith Matters, which works on countering extremism, community integration and monitoring hate crime work. He is also the Founder of the national Islamophobia Monitoring Group, Tell MAMA, and was it's Director from 2011-2016. He has worked on supporting better Muslim and Jewish relations for over 17 years.
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