Watch: Protester holding ‘Hamas Are Terrorists’ sign arrested by police

A counter-protester carrying a banner condemning Hamas as a terror group was arrested after holding the sign aloft as pro-Palestine activists filed past him on Saturday.

Niyak Ghorbani, who was holding a banner reading “Hamas is terrorist”, was pulled to the ground and handcuffed by officers after an incident took place close to the march through central London.

As police held him down, he shouted “Shame on you”, before saying “I wrote down Hamas is a terrorist organisation... but they arrested me”.

The 38-year-old was de-arrested and released shortly after, with police saying he had been held for his own safety after an alleged assault was carried out against him.

Onlookers could be heard criticising the apparent disparity in police acting over Mr Ghorbani’s banner, but not some of those displayed in the main crowd of pro-Palestine protesters.

The flashpoint came as thousands of people filed through central London in the latest national protest against Israel’s bombing of Gaza following the Oct 7 massacre by Hamas.

One pro-Palestine activist on the march could be seen wearing a protective helmet and carrying a riot shield.

The bearded man, whose helmet was similar to those used by reporters in combat zones, paraded holding the riot shield with the slogan: “Resistance is justified when your land is occupied” as the singer Charlotte Church walked at the head of the march to the US embassy.

One demonstrator carries a riot shield and wears a protective helmet
One demonstrator carries a riot shield and wears a protective helmet - HENRY NICHOLLS

He was later arrested under section 5 of the Public Order Act after being placed under “active observation” by officers who detained him at “an appropriate time”.

In total, there were five arrests at the protest, including one man who was arrested for assault.

One woman was arrested for holding an offensive placard, while two others were arrested for chanting offensive slogans.

One of the placards held at the protest
One of the placards held at the protest

One young woman held a placard reading “One holocaust does not justify another”, in defiance of criticism that such comparisons are anti-Semitic, while next to her a man with bloodstained hand prints on a hospital tunic carried a doll to signify the thousands of children killed in Gaza.

Several placards showed support for the Houthi militias in Yemen targeting ships going through the Red Sea.

Police officers were overheard being told over their radios that if they heard chants of “Yemen, Yemen turn those ships around” they should make “active interventions”.

Mr Ghorbani, an Iranian who lives in Balham, south London, told The Telegraph he had been assaulted by pro-Palestine protesters as he stood holding his sign.

He said: “They attacked me from behind and hit me in the head. They pushed me and told me Hamas is a protector of Palestine.”

The IT professional added: “The police destroyed my sign and told me that I had harassed someone in the protest and that is why they arrested me.

“They arrested me because someone who supports Hamas attacked me and I defended myself. After 10 minutes my friends showed them a video of what I was doing and they released me.

“The person who attacked me was not arrested.”

Church has been criticised after leading a choir in a rendition of 'from the river to the sea'
Charlotte Church participating in the protest - JORDAN PETTITT/PA WIRE

Scotland Yard said in a statement: “The man was arrested after an altercation was ongoing, and officers intervened to prevent a breach of the peace. He was arrested for assault.

“Officers then fully reviewed footage provided of the incident, and he was later de-arrested. The arrest was not made in relation to the placard.”

Mr Ghorbani had bottles, sticks, clods of earth and other objects thrown at him by pro-Palestine protesters on a previous march after he held up a sign asking if people agreed that Hamas was a terrorist organisation.

Speaking about the protests in general, Mr Ghorbani said: “I think people in England are a bit naive about what Hamas is. I lived in Germany for eight years and there they know what Hamas is like. Here some people have no idea.”

Mr Ghorbani had been standing close to where a small group of around 40 pro-Israel counter-protesters had gathered, separated from the main march by about the same number of police officers.

They held Israeli flags and placards demanding the release of hostages, chanting “bring them home”, “Hamas is Isis” and “rape is not resistance”.

It was the first time since the Gaza conflict began in October that an official counter-demonstration was staged in solidarity with both Israel and British Jews who have felt intimidated by repeated protests from Palestinian supporters likening Israel’s tactics to the Holocaust.

A protest is taking place against the escalation of military action in Gaza
For the first time since the Gaza conflict began in October an official counter-demonstration will be staged - AVPICS/ALAMY LIVE NEWS

The group, whose counter-protest was kept a couple of hundred yards away by police from the route of the pro-Palestine march, said they wanted to reclaim London as “a bastion of democracy, diversity, and multiculturalism”.

Church was criticised last month after leading a choir in a rendition of “from the river to the sea” during a pro-Palestinian charity concert.

The chant – which was heard repeatedly on Saturday – has been interpreted by many, including Suella Braverman, the former home secretary, as a call for the destruction of the state of Israel.

Church said she joined the protest to “show solidarity with the people of Palestine for all that they are suffering through”.

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