"Hamas is Terrorist": The Words that Got an Iranian Activist Arrested in UK

An Iranian activist was arrested in the United Kingdom while holding an anti-Hamas placard during a pro-Palestinian demonstration.

38-year-old Niyak Ghorbani, an Iranian activist living in the UK for two and a half years, held the sign that said, “Don’t attack the law. Hamas is a terrorist. U.K. added Hamas to the terrorist list “Terrorism Act 2000” in March 2021” during a pro-Palestinian protest in London last March 9th.

Videos from the incident show surrounding protesters noticing Ghorbani’s sign as people began chanting “Free Palestine” and “shame on you” at him while attempting to cover his placard with the Palestinian flag.

The confrontation quickly turned into a physical fight, with protesters attempting to grab his sign. Ghorbani was filmed being shoved by a protester before trying to leave the heated situation.

London’s Metropolitan Police followed Ghorbani, and multiple police officers were recorded cornering and arresting the activist. One officer was also filmed crumpling his banner to the cheers of the pro-Palestinian protesters.

Ghorbani told The Jerusalem Post, who reported the story that the police injured his hands and back during the arrest. The Metropolitan Police published a statement in X (formerly known as Twitter) that they did not arrest Ghorbani for the anti-Hamas banner but for assault as “officers intervened to prevent a breach of peace.” The statement also confirmed that after the police “fully reviewed footage provided of the incident… he was later de-arrested.

The activist disputed the Metropolitan Police’s statement, describing the incident on X as “shameful” and even posted a photo and video of him during the demonstration, adding, “Who should I complain to when the law enforcer speaks "lies"!” He also told The Jerusalem Post that the protesters involved in the altercation were not arrested, though the Metropolitan Police neither confirmed nor denied this in their statement.

Initially, the police claimed my intention was to disrupt the gathering. They threw me to the ground and arrested me. Despite seeing my poster and realizing I hadn't said anything against the laws of England, they detained me… the police told me I was arrested for disrupting the gathering, then after five minutes, they said someone had complained about me for resisting.” Ghorbani told The Jerusalem Post.

However, eventually, when my friends presented videos to the police, they realized their grave mistake and released me, warning me of arrest if I return[ed] to a Hamas-supporting gathering,” he said. “However, instead of apologizing, the police issued a statement full of lies and played with my dignity. It's shameful.

Jonathan Turner, executive director for UK Lawyer for Israel, an association of pro-Israel British lawyers, reviewed footage of Ghorbani’s arrest and confirmed that the police may have broken the law for falsely arresting the Iranian activist and preventing those who assaulted him from being identified.

It appears from the footage that the police brutally arrested the wrong person,” Turner said. “Niyak Ghorbani was entitled to use reasonable force to prevent a person who was attempting to steal his poster, which said ‘Hamas is Terrorist.’

In arresting Mr. Ghorbani, the police appear to have committed criminal offenses of assault and false imprisonment. In addition, it appears that a policeman took and screwed up his poster. As well as theft of his property and criminal damage, this was also destruction of evidence that might have had fingerprints identifying the real offender,” Turner also added.

Ghorbani told police officers he did not assault anybody and that he intended to show the British public that the protesters were supporting Hamas and not the Palestinian civilians in Gaza.

As an Iranian residing in the UK, amidst the turmoil caused by extremist Islamists and Marxist-Leninists in my homeland, I strive to not only represent the voice of the Iranian people but also express gratitude to those who have welcomed me into their country,” Ghorbani told the Post. 

"After enduring 45 years of bitter repression and slaughter by the Islamic Republic and its oppressive arms like Hamas, Hezbollah, etc., we, the people of Iran, seek to show the world that we are advocates of peace and friendship," he also added.

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