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Heathrow Airport has sparked fury after claiming there is a reason for staff wearing Palestine flag badges - despite rules banning religious or political items.

It comes after a Jewish traveller - whose bag was taken in for a second security check by an employee wearing a Palestinian badge - challenged the airport on why the political badge was being worn.

The passenger, who visited the London airport on May 26, was told that staff were not allowed to wear religious or political objects.

However, officials also said that the Palestine flag did not break the rules because it was issued to "indicate an employee speaks a particular language or dialect from a certain region" - in this case, Arabic.

In response to the complaint, Heathrow’s passenger customer support department said: "We can confirm that no nationality, religious or political items can be worn by any Heathrow staff whilst present on duty as part of our uniform standards.

"The exception is that if a person speaks a language or dialect from a certain region as a secondary/tertiary language, a flag representing the region or country would be present which is provided by Heathrow.

"This is not a compulsory requirement to display this information and is at the staff member’s discretion, so that foreign travellers may know who to approach should it be easier to communicate in their own language.

"The flag is used to be more easily identifiable from a distance than for the language to be written in script."


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Caroline Turner, director of UK Lawyers for Israel (UKLFI), said the badge would lead people to believe that the staff were supporters of Palestine, given the ongoing conflict in Gaza.

"This explanation defies belief," she told The Telegraph.

"Any passenger seeing the security staff member wearing a Palestinian flag would assume that it was there to indicate his or her support for a state for Palestinians, or for Hamas’ actions, and it may also indicate his or her antipathy to Jews and Israelis.

"The effect of the security staff wearing the flag is to create an intimidating, hostile, and offensive environment for Jews and Israel supporters."

It comes after an investigation was launched by the Home Office professional standards unit after a complaint was lodged over Heathrow Border Force staff “harassing” Israeli passengers arriving in the UK.

On June 9, passengers on an El Al flight from Ben Gurion to Heathrow Airport were allegedly asked to undergo more checks after an official found one of the passengers had an Israeli flag.

The travellers complained that they felt "harassed" and were subjected to "degrading treatment", according to UKLFI.

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