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Veteran refuses to pay fine over Hamas sign at South Yorkshire protest

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A 77-year-old US military veteran, Michael Rabb, has made headlines after refusing to pay over £2,300 in fines and costs following his conviction for carrying a sign supporting Hamas at a protest in South Yorkshire as reported by BBC News.

Rabb, hailing from Boulder, Colorado, was among a crowd of up to 500 people who gathered outside Sheffield City Hall on October 21, 2023, to protest the ongoing Hamas/Israel conflict. The former fighter pilot was observed carrying a homemade sign with the message “Stand With Hamas, End Israel, Free Palestine.”

District Judge Annabel Pilling found Rabb guilty of displaying an article, namely a sign, in a manner or under circumstances that led to reasonable suspicion that he was a member or supporter of a proscribed organization. Consequently, he was ordered to pay a £1,000 fine, £930 in costs, and a £400 surcharge.

During sentencing, Rabb, standing throughout the proceedings, defiantly declared, “No judge, I’m not going to pay. I refuse to pay.” However, the judge cautioned him, noting his strongly held views, and gave him seven days to comply with the payment or face potential contempt of court charges.

Under the Terrorism Act, Hamas is recognized as a proscribed organization, and the prosecution argued that it was unnecessary for Rabb to explicitly express support for Hamas to participate in the peaceful protest. Despite his lack of any terrorist-related material and his previous good character, the court deemed his actions as potentially inflammatory and in violation of the law.

Rabb, a Vietnam War veteran, defended his actions in court, stating, “I have been engaged in the struggle to free Palestine for several years and participated in several missions to Palestine. I have been to Gaza and know how the people are being genocided by the state of Israel.” He emphasized his stance, asserting, “Yes, I stand with Hamas.”

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The court was informed that Rabb initially left the protest after being approached about his sign but later returned. His actions caused distress among organizers and led to police intervention. Despite being warned about potentially committing a terror offense, Rabb remained steadfast in his support for Hamas and was subsequently arrested.

During cross-examination, Rabb defended his actions, arguing that supporting Hamas was critical to his stance and to the people of Palestine. He described his protest as a legitimate act of civil disobedience and criticized his arrest as an attempt to stifle dissent.

Rabb’s refusal to pay the fine has sparked debate over freedom of speech, civil disobedience, and the limits of protest in democratic societies. The case highlights the complexities surrounding political expression and the legal consequences individuals may face for advocating controversial

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Birminghamgist Staff is a News Reporter, making waves in the UK with insightful and Engaging reporting.

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