Outrage has been sparked in the U.K. after Tower Hamlets’s Muslim mayor, Lutfur Rahman, replaced the British flag at the town hall with a Palestinian one. He wanted to show solidarity for the people caught up in the Hamas war in Gaza.
Just one short day after it emerged that Rahman is to face trial over serious claims of voting fraud, he ordered the Palestinian flag on the government building “in support of a ceasefire and peace.” He neglected to be even-handed and fly an Israeli flag as well.
In an ever-increasing environment of anti-Semitic sentiment in Britain, the move by Rahman has been received badly by Jewish community leaders who termed it “destructive” for inter-community relations.
Rahman, who was a member of the Tower Hamlets Labour Party, was expelled from it after it surfaced that he had strong links with an Islamic extremist group called the Islamic Forum of Europe.
The mayor tweeted a photograph of the flag, with the caption: ‘Palestinian flag flying at Town Hall in solidarity with #Gaza and in support of a ceasefire & peace.”
Tory party chairman Grant Shapps told the Mail Online, “This is an administration that cannot even organize their own election count, let alone intervene on foreign affairs in the Middle East. What we need is an immediate ceasefire and continued humanitarian aid, rather than empty, flag-waving gesture politics.”
Meanwhile, Jonathan Arkush, vice president of the Board of Deputies of British Jews, said: “Mayor Rahman should remember that he is flying a flag from a British town hall in support of an organisation that is regarded across Europe and the world as terrorist.”
In his attempt to spin the reality of the heavily weighted political statement mayor Rahman made by raising the flag, he said:
“We are flying the Palestinian flag over the town hall as a humanitarian gesture of our solidarity with the people of Gaza. In addition to the current military onslaught, the blockade of Gaza is causing a humanitarian catastrophe. Over 1,000 people have been killed, most of them women and children. An urgent aid corridor needs to be opened to allow those injured to receive treatment and medical care.”
David Israel of the Leeds Jewish community said the Preston council was wrong to take sides in the conflict, telling the BBC, “[I]nnocent Israeli civilians have suffered through war and conflict. If you’re going to put up one flag you need to put up the other flag to show support for innocent civilians on both sides on the conflict.”