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UK to ban masks at protests amid wave of violent, antisemitic demonstrations

“I will give police the powers they need to crack down on this intimidating and appalling behavior,” British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak said.

Israeli President Isaac Herzog meets visiting British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak, Oct. 19, 2023. Photo by Kobi Gidon/GPO.
Israeli President Isaac Herzog meets visiting British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak, Oct. 19, 2023. Photo by Kobi Gidon/GPO.

U.K. Prime Minister Rishi Sunak announced on Thursday that his government will ban face coverings and institute other legal changes in response to months of anti-Israel protests that have featured violent Jew-hatred.

“Since the Oct. 7 attacks on Israel, we’ve seen protests across our country almost every weekend,” Sunak said in a video address. “Many of these have been respectful, but there have also been far too many appalling examples of antisemitism, violent intimidation and the glorification of terrorism. This must not stand.”

Sunak said the measures to “bring order” to the streets would include banning fireworks and flares and stopping people from climbing on “our sacred war memorials” and concealing their identities from police with face coverings.

“Those who abuse their freedom to protest undermine public safety and our democratic values, and I will give police the powers they need to crack down on this intimidating and appalling behavior,” Sunak added.

Israel’s embassy in London welcomed the move.

“Thank you PM Rishi Sunak for your continued commitment towards combating the worrying rise in antisemitism we have seen since the Oct. 7 massacre,” the embassy wrote.

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