More than 100 German-Jewish intellectuals criticised the ongoing ban on pro-Palestine demonstrations in many German cities, including Berlin, local media reports said Monday, Anadolu Agency reports.
In recent weeks, state and city governments across Germany have banned public gatherings with suspected pro-Palestinian sympathies. These repressions also punish demonstrations such as ‘Youth against Racism’ and ‘Jewish Berliners against Violence in the Middle East’
the Berlin-based daily Tageszeitung reported, citing parts of the letter of the group.
Police have provided no credible defence for these decisions. Virtually all of the cancellations, including those banning gatherings organised by Jewish groups, were justified by police in part because of the “immediate threat” of “inflammatory, anti-Semitic shouts,” it added.
The intellectuals stressed that these allegations served “to suppress legitimate and non-violent political expression, which may include criticism of Israel.”
“Attempts to resist these arbitrary restrictions are met with indiscriminate brutality. Authorities have targeted people with migrant backgrounds across Germany, harassing, arresting and beating civilians, often under the flimsiest of pretexts,” the letter said.
In Berlin’s Neukoelln district, home to large Turkish and Arab communities, is now a police-occupied area. Armoured vans and armed riot police patrol the streets, looking for spontaneous shows of support for Palestinians or symbols of Palestinian identity
The German-Jewish intellectuals rejected what they called “this pretext for racist violence and express our full solidarity with our Arab, Muslim and especially Palestinian neighbours.”
Last week, the German government defended the controversial ban on anti-Israel demonstrations amid mounting public criticism from the German-Palestinian community.
Everyone in Germany is allowed to express their opinions freely and demonstrate peacefully, said Deputy Interior Minister, Rita Schwarzeluehr-Sutter, in a speech to the Parliament in Berlin.
“But it has a very thick red line: There is zero tolerance for anti-Semitic and anti-Israel incitement. There is zero tolerance for violence,” she added.
If necessary, there will also be “tough police intervention,” Rita Schwarzeluehr-Sutter warned.
Palestinian activist groups have vowed to protest against the demonstration ban in Germany.
The ban by the police violates our constitutional rights, wrote the group named ‘Palestine Campaign Initiative’ on its website.
“We will take legal action to enforce our rights in the future,” it said.
German police and courts have reacted differently to a series of protests and demonstrations showing solidarity with Palestinians, with some being outlawed and others allowed to go ahead.
On 12 October, Germany banned the pro-Palestinian group, Samidoun, which had been organising pro-Palestinian protests in Berlin after Hamas initiated Operation Al-Aqsa Flood against Israel.
The conflict in Gaza, which has been under Israeli bombardment and a blockade since October, began when Hamas initiated Operation Al-Aqsa Flood, a multi-pronged surprise attack that included a barrage of rocket launches and infiltrations into Israel by land, sea and air. It said the incursion was in retaliation for the storming of Al-Aqsa Mosque and growing violence by Israeli settlers against Palestinians.
The Israeli military then launched Operation Swords of Iron against Hamas targets in the Gaza Strip.
Nearly 6,500 people have been killed in the conflict, including at least 5,087 Palestinians and more than 1,400 Israelis, according to official figures.