In Tower Hamlets, the display of Palestinian flags on lamp-posts along the streets is being addressed following concerns raised with the local authorities. Reports circulating on social media noted that Bow Road in Tower Hamlets was adorned with these flags.
The Metropolitan Police clarified that no criminal offense had occurred but drew attention to the matter with Transport for London (TfL), responsible for the road network. TfL, in response, confirmed that it was taking steps to remove these “unauthorised flags.”
Tower Hamlets Council, which shares responsibility for the roads, is also actively involved in removing the flags.
While New Scotland Yard clarified that displaying the Palestinian flag in itself is not a criminal act, a spokesperson added a nuanced perspective: “There are some situations where the presence of a flag or banner or the use of specific words or phrases could be seen as intimidation. In some circumstances, it could also be seen as intending to cause harassment, alarm, or distress.”
Metropolitan Police officers reached out to TfL and Tower Hamlets Council on Monday, prompting swift action.
TfL stated in a release, “We are investigating reports of unauthorised flags on the road network in Tower Hamlets and are removing these swiftly where they are found to be attached to TfL infrastructure.” The emphasis here is on ensuring the safety and clarity of public infrastructure, free from unauthorised objects.
The exact number of flags taken down has not been disclosed.
Labour councillor Asma Islam told ITV News “The issue that’s happening in the Middle East with Gaza, the humanitarian crisis that’s happening right now, a lot of people have feel passionately about what’s going on. They’re calling for a ceasefire and the flags are in line with what’s happening and they want to be able to participate and show how they feel and what they want their politicians to do.”
Jewish Conservative councillor spoke to ITV News and said “It seemed absolutely intimidating. And this is on public street furniture? Public street furniture is for everybody. Somebody organised this, but I was very, very pleased to see that the local authorities got together.”
Tower Hamlets has a large Muslim community and there’s widespread support for the Palestinian cause.
Tower Hamlets Council affirmed its commitment to addressing the situation by removing the flags from lamp-posts on its roads. A spokesperson explained, “A number of Palestinian flags have been put up by the public in recent weeks. While we appreciate people want to express their support for Palestine, we have a routine responsibility to monitor and maintain council infrastructure. As a result, the situation is under daily review.”