LONDON: MPs have written a letter to the UK government urging it to expand the country’s ban on Lebanese terrorist group Hezbollah, amid fears that current measures do not go far enough.
Iran-backed Hezbollah, founded in 1985, was banned in the UK in March 2019. The group had previously been allowed to operate its political wing in Britain.
That freedom had led to Hezbollah supporters marching through the streets of London and elsewhere on many occasions, chanting slogans and displaying the group’s flag at official demonstrations.
MPs from across the political spectrum wrote to the UK Minister of State for Security James Brokenshire to highlight an alarming lack of data in the public sphere about Hezbollah’s membership and ties, convictions for offenses related to the organization, and to express concern over its influence in the country.
The UK government has so far refused to say how many people have been charged or convicted of offenses regarding support for Hezbollah since the 2019 ban.
“The display of flags and other symbols of illegal organizations in public spaces by fellow British citizens, such as on political marches or on social media, is evident and offensive to ordinary people,” the letter said.
It added that without public data, it would be impossible to “properly asses” the effectiveness of the UK’s ban on Hezbollah.
The letter was signed by MPs from the governing Conservative Party, Labour and the Democratic Unionists.
Hezbollah has close historical ties to Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC). Analysts say the IRGC often uses Hezbollah as a proxy force.
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