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Government officials are reassessing the meaning of extremism, which could potentially give councils and police forces the power to withdraw financial support from charities and religious organizations that express hateful beliefs.
Secretary Michael Gove has reportedly instructed officials to create a revised official explanation of extremism with the goal of combating hate, including anti-Semitism.
After a primarily peaceful pro-Palestine protest on Saturday, nine individuals were detained in central London, as over 100,000 demonstrators gathered to demand a ceasefire in the Israel-Hamas conflict.
Seven of these were reported as potential violations of public order, some of which are being investigated as hate crimes. Two are for alleged attacks on law enforcement officers.
The Metropolitan Police, previously known as Twitter, has stated that they are currently investigating a possible “hate crime incident” at Trafalgar Square. The incident involved chanting that referenced the Medieval Battle of Khaybar, which was a massacre of Jews by Islamic forces in 628.
Police also investigated reports that a pamphlet was being distributed during the march, which promoted Hamas. The department confirmed this through their social media account.
The UK has banned expressions of support for Hamas, a proscribed terror organization, after they carried out an attack on Israel on October 7, resulting in the death of 1,400 people by Palestinian militants.
According to a recent report from The Sunday Telegraph, government officials in the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities are considering a proposed redefinition of hateful extremism.
The project is believed to have begun prior to the outbreak of violence in the Middle East.
The Whitehall department is reviewing definitions that were released in 2021 as part of a report that Sir Mark Rowley, currently the head of the Met, was involved in.
The report advised government officials to take stronger actions to eliminate extremism. The Commission for Countering Extremism, the official monitoring group, determined that there are gaps in existing laws that make it more difficult to address “hateful extremism.”
According to The Sunday Telegraph, the Home Office is looking into potential modifications to laws regarding terrorism.
The recent demonstrations in the UK supporting Palestine occurred in cities such as Manchester, Glasgow, and Belfast. Another protest is planned for Sunday in Bristol. These events are happening amidst a deteriorating situation in the Middle East.
The leader of Israel, Benjamin Netanyahu, announced to his country that their military has initiated a “second phase” in their conflict with Hamas by deploying ground forces into Gaza and intensifying attacks from land, air, and sea.
According to him, these numbers will only rise as a widespread ground invasion into the 25-mile area is carried out.
Prime Minister Netanyahu stated, “It will be a long and challenging process, but we are prepared.”
Residents in Gaza have reported that the recent Israeli bombardment, which is being described as the most intense of the war, has severely disrupted communication systems in the strip.
The besieged enclave’s 2.3 million inhabitants have mostly been isolated from the outside world and each other.
The Gaza health ministry controlled by Hamas reported that the number of Palestinian fatalities in Gaza has reached approximately 7,700 since the conflict began three weeks ago.
According to a source from 10 Downing Street, Prime Minister Rishi Sunak received updates on developments in the war over the weekend.
The rise in hostilities has forced Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer to reconsider his position on the conflict.
The leader of the opposing party is backing the actions of the UK’s Conservative government to promote “humanitarian pauses” in the conflict, in order to deliver aid to Gaza and allow those trapped in the heavily bombed area to evacuate.
However, on Saturday, several shadow ministers defied their party’s stance and openly expressed their approval for a ceasefire.
Sir Keir’s team did not respond when questioned about the possibility of frontbenchers, such as shadow Home Office minister Jess Phillips and shadow solicitor general Andy Slaughter, being able to keep their positions after publicly advocating for a ceasefire. This goes against Labour’s official stance.