No evidence London Underground driver said ‘jihad’ over tannoy

3 November 2023
What was claimed

A London Underground driver said “jihad” over the tannoy on Saturday 21 October.

Our verdict

Transport for London says it‘s had no reports of this and we’ve not found any evidence to support the claim. Transport for London says a Tube driver has been suspended after appearing to lead a pro-Palestinian chant on a train.

On Saturday, as the Prime Minister said, “jihad” was called for on the streets of London and a London Underground driver said the same over the tannoy.

During a debate in the House of Commons last week on the situation in Israel and Gaza, Conservative MP Dr Matthew Offord claimed that on Saturday 21 October “‘jihad’ was called for on the streets of London and a London Underground driver said the same over the tannoy”.

The Arabic word ‘jihad’ translates as ‘struggle’ or ‘effort’, and has multiple meanings in Islam. While it can mean a ‘holy war’, and has been associated with terrorism following the rise of organisations such as al Qaeda and Daesh (Islamic State), it can also describe an individual’s spiritual and personal struggle with their faith as a Muslim. 

While the Metropolitan Police has said videos taken during pro-Palestinian demonstrations in London on that day showed at least one person saying “jihad”, we have found no evidence of a London Underground driver saying this while using a tannoy. We have asked Dr Offord for evidence to support his claim but have not had any response. 

Videos circulated on social media on 21 October appear to show the driver of a Tube train on the Central line using the public address system to lead passengers in a pro-Palestinian chant. Transport for London says the Tube driver has since been suspended

Some videos begin after the driver appears to start addressing passengers over the public address system, saying: “...and all those who are facing dehumanisation and oppression… [unclear]...the ongoing occupation. So as I feel a part of it although I can’t be there if you could kindly join me as we proceed towards Bond Street. And just to warm you guys up, here we go. Free, free.” After this, some passengers in the carriage chant “Palestine”, and later in one of the videos the driver appears to be heard leading chants of “no justice, no peace” and telling passengers to be “louder”. 

Other videos show the end of the exchange, in which the “free Palestine” chant continues, before the driver says: “Hope you all have a blessed day today and look after yourselves, and give a big shout out to everybody and keep all those people in your prayers. Have a good day.” 

In none of the videos viewed by Full Fact does the driver appear to use the word “jihad” over the tannoy, however, and we’ve seen no other public reports that the driver did so. 

Transport for London told Full Fact that it had had no reports of other drivers using tannoys to make announcements related to the demonstration, and as far as it was aware the driver on the Central line did not say “jihad” over the tannoy. 

Politicians should provide evidence for claims made or rely on public evidence, especially when making claims in Parliament. They should take care to ensure what they say is accurate and should correct the record if they say something incorrect.

Image courtesy of Chris McAndrew.

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After publishing this fact check, we contacted Dr Matthew Offord to request a correction regarding this claim. 

Dr Offord did not respond. 

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