Boris Johnson joins thousands marching against anti-Semitism in London

Rally follows concerns about rising tension brought on by Israel-Gaza war

The march against anti-Semitism in London on Sunday. Reuters
Powered by automated translation

Live updates: Follow the latest news on Israel-Gaza

Tens of thousands of people, including former prime minister Boris Johnson, gathered in London, for a march against anti-Semitism, a day after large crowds turned out for a pro-Palestinian rally.

Mr Johnson was joined by the UK's Chief Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis and senior government officials at the march to express solidarity with the Jewish community.

The march was organised amid growing fears and rising tension ignited by the Israel-Hamas war in Gaza.

“Anything that is associated with the Jewish religion now feel that they’re under attack and they have to look after themselves, have their own security," said Malcolm Canning, 75, from London.

"I never thought this would get to this stage in this country. And it’s very, very upsetting to see it.”

Government ministers and the Metropolitan Police have stressed the need for the UK’s Jewish community to feel safe on the streets, amid concern about rising tension sparked by the conflict in Gaza.

It comes as a second group of hostages in Gaza and Palestinians from Israeli prisons were released on Saturday.

The rally in the capital came a day after tens of thousands of people marched calling for a permanent ceasefire.

Some pro-Palestinian demonstrators accused Israel of committing genocide, while others chanted “from the river to the sea”.

There were 18 arrests made over the course of the day for alleged offences, including suspicion of inciting racial hatred and of supporting a proscribed organisation.

Sunday's march was organised by the charity Campaign Against Anti-Semitism.

“Week after week, central London has become a no-go zone for Jews," the charity said.

"We have witnessed mass criminality, including glorification of terrorism, support for banned terrorist organisations such as Hamas and incitement to racial or religious hatred against Jews.

"The sad truth is that Jews do not feel safe in our capital city.

"Britain is known for its tolerance and decency, and we know that the people of this country stand with the Jewish community in this difficult time.

"That is why those who stand with British Jews from up and down the UK will be marching in London this Sunday in solidarity against anti-Semitism.”

Police detained Stephen Yaxley-Lennon, known by his alias Tommy Robinson, the former leader of the far-right English Defence League, at the march.

He argued with police and was led away by officers.

“We have been in frequent contact with the organisers of the march in recent days," the Met said in a statement.

“They have been clear about their concerns that the man’s attendance, and that of those who were likely to accompany him, would cause fear for other participants.

“The same view has been voiced by others.

“As a result, he was spoken to and warned on more than one occasion that his continued presence in the area was likely to cause harassment, alarm and distress to others.

“He was directed to leave the area but refused to do so.”

Chief Rabbi Mirvis was among those at the front the crowd, as marchers waved Israeli and Union flags as well as placards reading “Never Again is Now” and “Zero Tolerance for Anti-Semites”.

Organisers called the rally the largest gathering against anti-Semitism London had seen since the Battle of Cable Street in 1936, when hundreds of thousands of people blocked a planned march by Sir Oswald Mosley’s British Union of Fascists through an area populated by many Jewish families.

Updated: November 26, 2023, 6:53 PM