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What is Al Quds Day?

This is a cross-post by Dave Rich from the CST blog

Al Quds Day is an annual day chosen by the late Ayatollah Khomeini to call for Israel to be destroyed. It is normally marked on the last Friday of Ramadan by marches and demonstrations around the world, including in London; this year it will take place on Friday 17th August. Quds is the Arabic name for Jerusalem.

Iranian leaders are very clear that Quds Day is not just about supporting Palestinian rights or campaigning for an improvement in their situation: it is about destroying Israel. The latest to state this is the current Iranian President, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad:

The Qods Day is not merely a strategic solution for the Palestinian problem, as it is to be viewed as a key for solving the world problems; any freedom lover and justice seeker in the world must do its best for the annihilation of the Zionist regime in order to pave the path for the establishment of justice and freedom in the world.

The organiser of the annual Quds Day march in London is the Islamic Human Rights Commission (IHRC). The IHRC has provided a page on its website titled “What is Al Quds Day?” to help explain what it is all about. The first external link provided on this page is to a selection of quotes by Khomeini about “Palestine and Al-Quds”, which includes this quote:

We must all rise, destroy Israel and replace it with the heroic Palestinian nation.

The IHRC is advertising Quds Day on London buses. Looking at the advert, it would be easy to think this is just another pro-Palestinian demonstration.

But reading the words of Quds Day founder Khomeini that are linked to by the IHRC to promote the event, it is clear that Quds Day is not like any other pro-Palestinian demonstration.

Quds Day is for people who want to destroy Israel.

The IHRC’s webpage also has a list of external links titled “Further resources on Palestine”. The ninth link in this list (out of ten) is called “Zionism – the Greatest Danger“. This external webpage that the IHRC links to is overtly antisemitic. It uses “Jews” and “Zionists” interchangeably in clearly antisemitic ways, such as:

The greatest evil facing the Muslim community (Ummah)and mankind today is not AIDS, Pollution, or Nuclear War. It is international Zionism. It is the Zionist greed for wealth, lust for perverted sex, greed for power, domination, and economic exploitation that is causing AIDS, POLLUTION as well as threatening NUCLEAR WAR.

Zionist are behind every evil and conflict in the world today. Whether it is political, economical, social or moral.

[...]This same Yahud (i.e. Jews) tried to destroy the Holy Prophet (SAW) and his followers in Medina.

The same Yahud that killed Prophet Yahya (AS), that defied Prophet Musa (AS), that crucified Prophet Isa (AS).

Today this Zionist are doing their utmost to destroy`Masjidu’l-Aqsa’ (Muslim’s first Qibla). Their aim is to conquer all Muslim lands and grab the oil resources and destroy Islam completely. Because Islam is a challenge to their evil schemes and exposes them.

This should not be a surprise. Quds Day is an Iranian-inspired and Iranian-led event and antisemitic conspiracy theory is central to Iranian policy towards Israel. In his comments this week promoting Quds Day, President Ahmadinejad claimed that a Zionist conspiracy has controlled world affairs for 400 years:

Ahmadinejad added, “It has now been some 400 years that a horrendous Zionist clan has been ruling the major world affairs, and behind the scenes of the major power circles, in political, media, monetary, and banking organizations in the world, they have been the decision makers, to an extent that a big power with a huge economy and over 300 million population, the presidential election hopefuls must go kiss the feet of the Zionists to ensure their victory in the elections.”

[...]

The president pointed out that in order to evolutionize the status of the world decision making is needed, the forces must get united, and their ultimate objective must be the annihilation of the Zionist regime, emphasizing, “The Zionist regime is both the symbol of the hegemony of the Zionism over the world and the means in the hand of the oppressor powers for expansion of their hegemony in the region and in the world.”

So Quds Day is not just for people who want to destroy Israel; it is also for people who promote antisemitic conspiracy theories.

The IHRC’s webpage about the day provides links to reports of previous years’ marches which show lots of demonstrators carrying Hizbollah flags. The military wing of Hizbollah is a proscribed terrorist organisation in the UK.

Here is a photograph of the same flag, being held by members of Hizbollah’s military wing at a rally in Lebanon:

(Yes, they really are giving Nazi-style salutes).

Here is a clearer depiction of the flag:

This is the same flag that has been carried on previous Quds Day demonstrations, and presumably will be carried on this year’s as well.

Under the Terrorism Act 2000, it is an offence if a person “wears, carries or displays an article, in such a way or in such circumstances as to arouse reasonable suspicion that he is a member or supporter of a proscribed organisation.” As a layperson, it seems clear to me that when people on the Quds Day march carry the Hezbollah flag they are potentially breaking this law. Some people may suggest that this is the flag of the political section of Hizbollah, which is not proscribed in the UK. If that is the case I have two questions: (a) why do Hizbollah fighters use it? and (b) why does it have a gun on it?

CST’s report on anti-Jewish terrorism, Terrorist Incidents against Jewish Communities and Israeli Citizens Abroad 1968-2010 (pdf), identified 14 terrorist attacks (both attempted and completed) by Hizbollah against Jewish and Israeli targets outside Israel up until the end of 2010. The most notorious of these was the suicide bombing of the AMIA Jewish community centre in Buenos Aires, Argentina, which killed 85 people. Since the end of 2010, Hizbollah has been implicated in terrorist plots against Jewish and Israeli targets in Cyprus, Singapore, Argentina and Thailand.

So Quds Day is not just for people who want to destroy Israel and who promote antisemitic conspiracy theories; it is also for people who support a terrorist organisation that targets Jews.

As well as the IHRC as organisers, these are the “Supporting Organizations” of this year’s Quds Day march in London:

  • Ahlulbait Islamic Mission
  • Aloha Palestine
  • Friends of Lebanon
  • Innovative Minds
  • Islamic Centre of England
  • Islamic Forum of Europe
  • Islamic Student Association
  • Jews Against Zionism
  • Lebanese Community UK
  • Neturei Karta UK
  • Muslim Association of Britain
  • Muslim Council of Britain
  • Palestine Legal Aid Fund
  • Scottish Palestine Solidarity Campaign
  • Stop the War Coalition
  • UKIM