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Germany temporarily bans pro-Palestine protests in Berlin

A demonstrator displays a placard reading: "Palestinian Lives Matter" during a pro-Palestinian protest in Berlin on May 19, 2021 [JOHN MACDOUGALL/AFP via Getty Images]
A demonstrator displays a placard reading: 'Palestinian Lives Matter' during a pro-Palestinian protest in Berlin on May 19, 2021 [JOHN MACDOUGALL/AFP via Getty Images]

Authorities in the German capital Berlin have banned all pro-Palestine protests until 2 May, alleging that some protesters have made antisemitic remarks.

A protest in support of Palestinians was scheduled to take place in Berlin yesterday – titled 'protest against Israeli aggression in Jerusalem' – but was cancelled by the city's police over "unacceptable antisemitism" at another protest last week, in which several of the protesters made alleged antisemitic statements.

"Based on experiences from the recent past," police officials said, there is "the immediate danger" that such events could happen during pro-Palestinians protests again. Berlin's Interior Minister Iris Spranger also stated earlier this week that "We had to witness criminal acts, antisemitic slogans, and exclamations of the worst kind", adding that it "is totally unacceptable."

Organisers of the protests, however, contested the narrative of events by highlighting that the action of a few protesters should not be used to judge the rest of those who take part in the protests.

READ: In Germany, burning the Israeli flag is a problem, but killing Palestinians isn't

The police were easily able to ban the scheduled protest using an amendment to the Assembly Act introduced during the Covid-19 pandemic, which enables them to ban protests and gathering if they claim there is a risk to public safety.

Organisers of the pro-Palestinian protests issued a last-minute appeal against the ban yesterday, but Berlin's Administrative Court struck it down by ruling that "The special public interest in the enforcement of the prohibition decision outweighs the interest of the applicant."

While protests in support of Palestinians and against Israeli occupation are banned until 2 May, there are several other demonstrations scheduled to take place in the city which have not been restricted. That is despite such demonstrations resulting in an even higher likelihood of street parties and chaos, according to critics of the ban.

Such discriminatory policies have led many to believe that German authorities have a problem solely with the pro-Palestinian theme of the protests, demonising any expression of criticism against Israel and its policies. German media has also directly adopted biases, with a flurry of outlets firing staff members and journalists – especially Arab ones – who express pro-Palestine views, attend protests, and even those who like social media posts criticising apartheid.

READ: Gaza journalists stand in support of sacked DW staff

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