Palestine murals in London removed by council after pro-Israel campaign

Palestine murals in London removed by council after pro-Israel campaign
Pro-Palestine murals in the London Borough of Tower Hamlets were removed without the mayor’s knowledge after complaints by pro-Israel lawyers.
3 min read
27 April, 2024
The mayor of Tower Hamlets said he was unaware of the murals being taken down in the borough [GETTY]

The council of the borough of Tower Hamlets in east London have removed pro-Palestine murals, while another local council is reviewing the artwork following complaints from pro-Israel lawyers.

Tower Hamlets has the UK’s largest Muslim population, had murals painted across the borough but they have now been removed.

One was of Palestinian journalist Hind Khoudary, which was defaced with pro-Israeli graffiti, and another depicted Doaah Albaz, another journalist. Two others in Watney Street and two painted on shop shutters were also taken down. The anti-social behaviour team was contacted about the murals on shutters.

However, the artwork was removed without the knowledge of Tower Hamlets' mayor, who appeared to protest the decision.

“Murals of Palestinian children, doctors & journalists murdered in Gaza should never be conflated with hate speech,” the mayor of Tower Hamlets, Lutfur Rahman, wrote on X.

“I was not made aware of the removal of these murals & am urgently seeking clarification on how this happened.”

UK Lawyers for Israel (UKLI) say the murals were taken down  after they sent a letter to the council. They claimed the murals were illegal as they “advertised the Palestinian cause”.

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UKLI also said that councils are “legally required” to foster good relations between different communities, and alleged that the murals were a violation of this.

The mayor was also forced to order the removal of Palestinian flags in London after the same group of lawyers sent complaints claiming they were distressing Jewish residents in the area.

UKLI had also sent a complaint to Redbridge council, where a mural has been painted depicting four Palestinian journalists in war-torn Gaza under the slogan “HEROS OF PALESTINE”.

The council said it is “currently reviewing” the mural and had never received an application for its installation. The borough has also succumbed to pressures from UKLI to remove Palestinian flags.

The pro-Israel lawyers say they also sent complaints to Hackney, Worcester and Lambeth.

The murals were put up after the beginning of Israel’s indiscriminate war on the Gaza Strip, which has devastated the territory, with residential areas, schools and hospitals bombed.

At least 34,388 Palestinians, mostly women and children, have been killed while 77,437 have been injured .

There have been frequent protests and acts of solidarity with Palestine in the UK ever since Israel's war started but they have been targeted by right-wing politicians and media.

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak has threatened protesters with jail if they cover their faces during the rallies while former Home Secretary Suella Braverman has called the protests "hate marches".