Man who wore headband in support of Hamas spared punishment

A man who was found guilty of wearing a headband in support of Hamas at a pro-Palestine rally in central London has been spared any punishment.

Khaled Hajsaad, 24, who has been living in Birmingham, wore the clothing at a rally in Trafalgar Square on November 25 2023.

The green headband had the “Shahada” written on it in white – the basic statement of the Islamic faith, Westminster Magistrates’ Court was told previously.

The defendant had previously told police the headband was “an item of Saudi Arabia” and the Shahada was a “statement of my faith”.

But Hajsaad was found guilty in April of wearing the item “in such a way or in such circumstances as to arouse reasonable suspicion” he was supporting Hamas – an illegal act in the UK where it is designated a terrorist group.

The defendant appeared at Westminster Magistrates’ Court on Friday where he was handed a conditional discharge for three months.

He was also spared any fines on account of his “extremely limited budget” of £49 per week used for food and travel.

Judge Nina Tempia said: “The offence here was Mr Hajsaad wearing a bandana at a demonstration.

“In respect to harm, I agree with the prosecution that there was harm as the conduct linked to support of a proscribed organisation.

“The offence was committed after (the October 7 attacks). Not days or weeks later, but seven weeks later. I would not classify the harm as serious.”

Hajsaad has been described as an asylum seeker who arrived in the UK a year ago.

The court heard that he was born in Palestine but left at the age of five.

He had since lived elsewhere before coming to the UK.

Bethan David, head of the CPS Counter Terrorism Division, said: “Khaled Hajsaad aroused suspicion that he was supporting Hamas – a proscribed terrorist organisation – by wearing the green headband in the context of a pro-Palestine protest in central London.

“Wearing such items in a public place creates a risk of encouraging others to support Hamas.

“When people break the law – whether by hateful speech, supporting proscribed organisations or by threatening public order – the CPS will prosecute swiftly and independently.

“We have already prosecuted a string of offences linked to events in the Middle East and we are working closely with the police to make sure our approach commands public confidence.”