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Finchley Road incident: Sadiq Khan defends police response to 'anti-Semitic threats'

17 May 2021, 15:41 | Updated: 17 May 2021, 15:59

By Joe Cook

Sadiq Khan has defended the Metropolitan Police response to reports of anti-Semitic threats being shouted from a convoy of cars in Finchley, north London.

The mayor of London told LBC the Met Police "deserve huge credit for their swift response", adding: "All I'd say in a gentle way to all those who watch social media or listen to the radio or watch TVs, often the police are acting and you don't know about it."

The comments came after footage posted on social media at 2.25pm on Sunday showed a convoy of cars covered with Palestinian flags passing down Finchley Road with passengers heard to shout offensive language and threats against Jews.

The car was later traced to the A40 in Hillingdon by a Met Police helicopter and was stopped at around 6.30pm, according to a statement from Scotland Yard.

Read more: Four arrested after reports of anti-Semitic threats being shouted from cars

Footage on social media showed a convoy of cars covered with Palestinian flags passing down Finchley Road, in north London, with passengers heard to shout offensive language and threats against Jews.
Footage on social media showed a convoy of cars covered with Palestinian flags passing down Finchley Road, in north London, with passengers heard to shout offensive language and threats against Jews. Picture: Social Media

Four men were arrested on suspicion of racially aggravated public order offences and are currently being held in a west London police station.

However, some have questioned the speed at which the arrests were made, coming around four hours after footage was widely shared online.

Mr Khan did not respond directly to questions about whether it took a call from him or another politician for the police to take the incident seriously.

However, he said: "I speak to the police regularly and unlike politicians they don't advertise and brag every time they are working behind the scenes and I think the police deserve huge credit for their swift response.

"You will be seeing over the course of the next few days, in some parts of London, high visibility police showing their presence. Ostensibly for reassurance but also confirming that they want to make sure all of us feel safe in our city."

The Met has "a zero-tolerance attitude towards any forms of hate crime," the mayor added.

"What we have seen 3000 miles away in the middle east, whether it is Israel, Gaza or the West Bank is heartbreaking, it makes many of us angry, but there is no excuse for anti-semitism in London in 2021.

"We have got to recognise the chilling effect this has on our friends and our neighbours and our colleagues.

"If you are a Jewish Londoner you are feeling frightened, the ripples of hate are felt by you, that is why I am really pleased arrests have been made. But also my message to anybody is if you are the victim of hate crime please, please, please report it."

The incident comes after thousands of people marched through London on Saturday to the gates of the Israeli embassy, while protests took place in other cities across the UK and Ireland in solidarity with the people of Palestine.

Thousands of Palestinians have been forced to flee their homes after a week of sustained conflict.

Since last Monday, Palestinian militant group Hamas has fired thousands of rockets into Israel, whose military has responded by barraging the Gaza Strip with tank fire and air strikes.

At least 200 Palestinians have been killed in hundreds of air strikes in Gaza, including 59 children and 35 women, with 1,300 people wounded.

Eight people in Israel have been killed in rocket attacks launched from Gaza, including a five-year-old boy and a soldier.