Peaceful protest is a vital part of our democratic society. It is a long-standing tradition in this country that people are free to gather together and to demonstrate their views, however uncomfortable or repugnant those can be to the majority of us but they must do so within the law.
I firmly believe that protesters' rights need to be balanced with the rights of others to go about their business without fear of intimidation or serious disruption to the community and rights to peaceful protest do not extend to violent or threatening behaviour. Police, therefore, must have the necessary powers to deal with such acts.
I entirely agree with you that Hezbollah's beliefs are outrageous, disgusting and should be condemned at every opportunity and the UK Government has long held the view that elements of Hezbollah have been involved in conducting and supporting terrorism. As a result, the UK proscribed Hezbollah's External Security Organisation in 2001 and then in 2008, proscription was extended to include the whole of Hezbollah's military apparatus, namely the Jihad Council and all the units reporting to it.
Under the Terrorist Asset-Freezing etc. Act of 2010, funds or economic resources owned, held or controlled by Hezbollah's military wing in the UK therefore can, and will, be frozen. Indeed, the External Security Organisation is part of the Government's Consolidated List of Financial Sanctions Targets, as are a number of individuals because of their association with Hezbollah.
A decision to proscribe an organisation is done on the recommendations submitted by law enforcement agencies, security services here and intelligence services overseas. It is crucial that we constantly monitor these groups and individuals involved in them and review the use of proscription as a means to take action where we see fit.
However, I have previously written to the Rt Hon Ben Wallace MP, the Minister of State for Security, to express my concerns with open expressions of support for Hezbollah and indeed, to ask why Hezbollah has not been proscribed in its entirety.