Note: This article is for general informational purposes. It is not a substitute for seeking specific legal advice, or to be relied on before taking or refraining from any action.
In the face of Israel’s horrific war crimes and ongoing genocide of the Palestinians over the last five weeks, it is natural to feel overwhelmed and powerless. However, the strength and courage of the Palestinian resistance and the people of Gaza should compel us to push ourselves to do everything within our power to support the Palestinian cause for freedom. Every act of resistance, no matter how small, is important.
This coming Saturday, 11th November promises to be one of the largest global pro-Palestine protests. As worldwide support for Palestine continues to grow, there is an increased effort to suppress civil liberties and silence the Pro-Palestinian voice, resulting in increased police surveilance and presence at the protests.
It is crucial to be aware of your rights. Your knowledge of these rights not only protects you but also amplifies your voice in the ongoing fight for justice.
- You have a right to protest
- You have a right to protest that is protected by law (For example the Human Rights Act in the UK) and can only be lawfully restricted by police to prevent crime or disorder in a way that is proportionate.
- For additional information and guidance on organising protests and understanding your rights in case of arrest, visit Liberty Human Rights if you’re in the UK or Palestine Legal if you’re in the US.
- You can also check well-known organising groups such as Palestinian Solidarity Campaign for protest details, as well as the protocols they advise to follow, to maximise public safety and protect your right to protest.
- You have the right to say ‘no comment’ to police questions
- If you are stopped by the police to be questioned, you have a right to NOT respond unless you are engaging in ‘anti-social behaviour’ (i.e. you are causing or likely to cause harassment, alarm or distress).
- If you choose to answer, do not give false information as it is a criminal offence.
- You cannot be searched or arrested for refusing to answer questions.
- You should comply with police searches but know their limitations
- The police can stop and search you only if they have ‘reasonable suspicion’ that you are carrying something illegal or something you could commit an offence with.
- The exception to this is Section 60 of ‘Criminal Justice and Public Order Act’ in the UK where they have blanket search powers for anyone in a specific area. This usually lasts for 24 hours but can be extended.
If they do search you, keep calm, make eye contact and ask the following questions:
- Why are you stopping me?
- What legal power are they using?
- What are you looking for?
- Who are you?
- Check their ID number, badge and warrant card if they are not in uniform.
- Which station are you based at?
The police have to provide this information (grounds, power, what they are looking for, who they are).
- You should NOT give your name or address, just answer with “no comment”.
- You are NOT legally required to share your nationality or immigration status even when arrested, although police may check this if they suspect you are not a British citizen.
- They should not put you in handcuffs, unless you resist or are aggressive.
- They can only search your outer clothing and bags. Any further, you have a right to be taken to a private place and be searched by someone of the same gender.
- They must give you a receipt of the search. Please check that everything has been filled in properly. If they are called to an emergency, they must advise you how to get a receipt. You don’t have to give your personal details to obtain this.
- You can also record the search with your mobile device, which may encourage the police to act lawfully. Politely inform the officer that you will do so, if not, ask a bystander to film. This is for your protection if they act forcefully.
- What Should I Do If I Am Arrested? (UK only)
- Before arresting you, the police should state that you’re being arrested and explain why. If you’re arrested, say “no comment” to all questions and do NOT accept a caution until you have legal advice.
- Seek advice from a solicitor with expertise in protest law (see below). You have the right to:
- Tell someone about your arrest
- Ask for an interpreter if English isn’t your first language
- Ask for an appropriate adult if you’re under 18 or a vulnerable person
- You are NOT legally required to share your nationality or immigration status when arrested, although police may check this if they suspect you are not a British citizen.
Legal Resources and Guidance
- Liberty offers many resources on their ‘Palestine Explainer Page’ for UK protestors including ‘protest bust cards’ in different languages.
- Palestine Legal is providing resources and advice for the U.S. activists.
- Tie your camel and leave the rest to Allah who will protect you
The Prophet ﷺ said, “Do not belittle any good deed.” It is imperative that we do not underestimate the power of every small action in support of the Palestinian cause. Whether it’s boycotting, protesting, participating in sit-ins, or sharing a simple post, every effort matters. These seemingly minor acts hold immense significance, for each one builds upon the other and inspires the next.
By attending a protest, you are speaking up for the oppressed and Allah will be with you. Tie your camel and trust in Him to protect you. He is Al-Muhaymin, The Preserver of Safety and the Overseeing Protector.
Just as the sea was parted for Musa and his followers, we hold onto the hope and belief that, inshaAllah, the sea of oppression will soon part for the Palestinians too. With unwavering determination and faith, we will continue to pave the road to their liberation and justice, inch by inch, just as history has shown us that small acts of resistance can lead to monumental change.