Rishi Sunak Warns Against Pro-Palestinian Protest In UK
Rishi Sunak said there is clear risk that Cenotaph and war memorials could be desecrated
British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak on Friday warned protesters not to demonstrate in London on Armistice Day, when Palestinian supporters plan to rally against the Israel-Hamas war.
The UK leader said that planning protests for November 11, a day of remembrance for soldiers killed in the two world wars and subsequent conflicts, was "provocative and disrespectful".
"There is a clear and present risk that the Cenotaph and other war memorials could be desecrated, something that would be an affront to the British public and the values we stand for," he said.
"The right to remember, in peace and dignity, those who have paid the ultimate sacrifice for those freedoms must be protected," Sunak added in the statement posted on X (formerly Twitter).
My statement on the disrespectful protests planned for Armistice Day. pic.twitter.com/bik539rDqn
Tens of thousands of pro-Palestinian demonstrators plan to march in Britain's capital on Saturday, November 11 to demand an immediate ceasefire in the conflict between Israel and Hamas.
Protest groups have not indicated they plan to march on Remembrance Sunday, the traditional culmination of days of events in tribute to those killed in the conflict. This year, it falls the day after Armistice Day.
But some fear their Saturday protest will disrupt Sunday's commemorations, which include a two-minute silence in honour of Britain's war dead.
Organisers have vowed to avoid the Whitehall area of central London where the Cenotaph -- the focal point of Remembrance Sunday -- is located.
London has seen large demonstrations on three successive weekends since Hamas gunmen on October 7 killed 1,400 people, mostly civilians, according to Israeli officials.
Since then, Israel has relentlessly bombarded the Palestinian territory and sent in ground troops, with the health ministry in Hamas-run Gaza saying more than 9,200 people have been killed, two-thirds of them women and children.
London's Metropolitan Police force has said it has made around 70 arrests at the recent protests and almost 100 more for hate crimes. More than 2,000 officers policed last weekend's protest.
Sunak said that he had asked his interior minister to support the British capital's police force "in doing everything necessary to protect the sanctity" of Armistice Day and Remembrance Sunday.
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