UK charges pro-Gaza protester over PM Rishi Sunak, Suella Braverman 'coconut' placard

UK charges pro-Gaza protester over PM Rishi Sunak, Suella Braverman 'coconut' placard
The placard held at a pro-Palestine rally appeared to mock UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak and the former Home Secretary Suella Braverman.
2 min read
22 May, 2024
A Palestine protest takes place in London, with demonstrators calling for a ceasefire and an end to Israel's brutal bombing camapign [Sarah Khalil/The New Arab]

pro-Palestine protester in the UK who allegedly carried a placard comparing Prime Minister Rishi Sunak and then-Home Secretary Suella Braverman to a coconut in November has been charged with a racially aggravated public order offence and will appear in court next month.

A Metropolitan Police spokesperson told The New Arab that Marieha Hussain, 37, had been informed of the decision by post. Hussain denied she had received any written correspondence from the London police force, Al Jazeera reported.

The word 'coconut' can be used in a divisive or offensive manner, by suggesting that like the colours of the fruit, Black or brown individuals can neglect their heritage or customs, instead embracing white opinion.

Hussain allegedly held up a poster at a pro-Palestine march depicting the Sunak and Braverman, who both have Indian ancestry, as coconuts having fallen from a tree.

Braverman, from the right-wing of the governing Conservative Party, had described pro-Palestinian protests in the UK as "hate marches". Sunak also denounced the protests as "disrespectful".

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Following the march where Hussain allegedly lifted the placard, the Met Police posted a photo of an individual onto their official X account, stating the person was being sought for a hate crime. The post went viral, amassing thousands of reposts.

The Met Police state hate can be considered a crime if it is "motivated by hostility or prejudice" based on sex, sexual orientation, transgenderism or disability.

The incident triggered a debate in the UK about the use of 'coconut' as a hate crime, with many people of colour saying they did not consider the word a racial slur.

The charge comes as Israel's brutal bombardment of Gaza continues to devastate large parts of the enclave with at least 35,200 Palestinians killed and 79,000 others wounded.