A man has appeared in court charged with wearing a green headband with writing on it said to arouse “reasonable suspicion” he supports Hamas.

Khaled Hajsaad, 24, who has been living in Birmingham, sported the clothing at a pro-Palestine rally in central London where he was arrested by police, prosecutors say.

The headband had the “Shahada” written on it – the basic statement of the Islamic faith, the court heard.

Appearing at Westminster Magistrates’ Court on Wednesday wearing a light grey coat and grey tracksuit, Hajsaad entered a not guilty plea through an Arabic interpreter.

His lawyer told the court the headband he was wearing was not Hamas affiliated and was similar to the Saudi Arabian flag, which also features the Islamic creed.

Nadeem Thanvi, representing Hajsaad, said the use of the writing was a “question of interpretation” of the person wearing the headband, adding Hajsaad has the right to express personal religious beliefs.

He is accused of wearing it at Trafalgar Square on November 25 “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.

Hajsaad, described as an asylum seeker who arrived in the UK a year ago, was joined by a number of supporters in court.

District Judge Briony Clarke granted Hajsaad bail, and ordered him to appear at City of London Magistrates’ Court on April 24 for trial.