Experts answer: What are the legal consequences of Britain’s decision to classify “Hamas” as a terrorist?
British Home Secretary Priti Patel’s announcement to ban the Islamic Resistance Movement (Hamas), and her intention to issue a parliament resolution classifying the movement as a terrorist organization, sparked a storm of internal and external reactions.
Patel justified this move by the difficulty of “separating the political and military part of the movement”, and also “to send a message to Jews in Britain that they are safe against anti-Semitism.”
The minister did not disclose the details of the bill, but it is expected to be submitted next week and to vote on it, given that the ruling Conservative Party has an absolute majority in Parliament.
While the Israeli occupation government welcomed this decision, and considered it a commendable effort by the government of Boris Johnson, Hamas condemned the move and described it as “supporting the aggressor against the oppressed.”
This decision comes in the context of the increasing British popular support for the Palestinian cause. According to a number of Palestinian activists in Britain, the cause has not known similar support in the United Kingdom for decades, which was evident during the demonstrations that took place in support of Palestine during the Battle of the Sword of Jerusalem last May.
The most prominent question remains about the legal consequences of the decision to ban Hamas and classify it as a terrorist movement, within Britain in particular, and Europe in general.
The head of the Geneva International Center for Justice, Dr. Sabah Al-Mukhtar, reviews the legal consequences of the British government’s decision, including restrictions on funding, support, opinion, and defense of Hamas.
Al-Mukhtar – who also heads the Arab Lawyers Association in Britain – said in his speech to Al-Jazeera Net, that the most dangerous thing in such decisions is “criminalizing support”, because the term support includes many activities, as “among them are justifying Hamas’ position or supporting it with money or Raising the movement’s flag, promoting its rhetoric, or even communicating with it, all of this will be criminalized.”
He added that carrying out any of the aforementioned activities in Britain “will be placed in the category of illegal work, and thus expose its owner to legal accountability, as decided by the court.”
The legal expert stressed that this law will “significantly narrow any activity of the movement in Britain, if it exists at all, but it does not directly affect the movement except for the possibility of moving the security follow-up against the movement’s leaders if they are in Europe.”
Al-Mukhtar pointed out that the decision should be viewed more from a political point of view than a legal one, “because the purpose of the law is to grant administrative powers to the government and security services to take measures it deems appropriate under the umbrella of the law,” adding that the interpretation of this law “will remain open to government interpretation.” The law has a significant impact on the movement.
Professor of Law at the University of London Dr. Mazen Al-Masry agrees with Dr. Sabah Al-Mukhtar’s proposal to focus on the political dimension of the decision to ban Hamas in Britain, noting that “the movement’s military wing – that is, the Al-Qassam Brigades – has been classified as terrorist for a while, and there is no justification for this new law.” Except to impose more restrictions on Palestinian political activity.”
Al-Masry said – in his speech to Al-Jazeera Net – that this law means that “any membership in the Hamas movement makes its owner subject to legal accountability and the submission of criminal regulations against him,” warning that the legal interpretation of the issue of support remains open.
He gave an example that any demonstration in Britain in support of Palestine might be banned and its organizers punished if “Hamas flags are raised or slogans supporting Hamas are chanted.”
Al-Masry saw the decision as an extension of a series of “legal harassment of the Palestinian struggle, beginning with the attempt to prevent the boycott movement, as well as the definition of anti-Semitism that confuses anti-Semitism with criticism of the occupation.”
The legal expert expected that the interpretation of this law would open many legal battles, especially since there are British humanitarian and charitable institutions operating in Gaza. “Will they be classified as supportive of Hamas, as well as people who travel to Gaza and need an entry and exit permit from the security services of Hamas, how will their situation be? “.
The law is also a “reaction” – as Al-Masry sees it – to the growing popular support for Palestine, “in return for strong support for the occupation in the joints of British political power.”
The head of the Arab Thinking Forum in London, Muhammad Amin, warns of the seriousness of this decision, as the penalty imposed by law, which reaches 14 years if a person is proven to support Hamas, is “an incomprehensible punishment, especially since – in practice – there is no official presence of Hamas.” in Britain”.
Amin considered – in his speech to Al-Jazeera Net – that “the purpose of the decision is to criminalize anyone who works for and advocates the Palestinian cause, and to prepare packaged charges that are ready to address the solidarity and institutions that confront the Zionist lobby.”
The same spokesman pointed out that this decision is “political par excellence, from which we can smell the smell of electoral propaganda,” suggesting that Interior Minister Priti Patel has a political ambition and a desire to run for prime minister in the future, especially in light of Boris Johnson’s unwillingness – as he stated more than once. – To continue, “you want to ensure early support for the Zionist lobby, which is known to everyone who seeks to reach that position,” as he put it.