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German ministry bans Palestine Solidarity group in Duisburg

German ministry bans Palestine Solidarity group in Duisburg

German police in the city of Duisburg, North Rhine-Westphalia, have carried out raids on four properties linked to the pro-Palestine group Palästina-Solidarität and issued a ban on the organisation.

Palästina-Solidarität group banned in Germany

The Interior Ministry of Germany’s most populous state, North Rhine-Westphalia, has announced that it has banned the pro-Palestine activist group Palästina-Solidarität Duisburg.

In a statement, Interior Minister in North Rhine-Westphalia Herbert Reul cited the group’s use of the phrase “From the river to the sea” and descriptions of the Israeli state’s bombardment since October 7 as “genocide” and “apartheid”, as the reason for the ban.

Because the phrase was used in a 2017 Hamas charter, the German government interprets the slogan “From the river to the sea” as having links to the governing body, which it considers a terrorist organisation. As well as Hamas, the phrase has been used by many protest groups and politicians since the 1960s. 

While some German states have prosecuted individuals and organisations for using the phrase, other states deem the Hamas link too tenuous to justify prosecution. "This ban comes at the right time and sends the right signal," said Reul.

Germany continues bans on pro-Palestine groups and figures

North Rhine-Westphalia’s ban on Palästina-Solidarität marks another crackdown on openly pro-Palestine groups in Germany since Hamas' attack on October 7.

One of the first high-profile cases involved Oyoun Cultural Centre in Berlin, which had its annual state funding cut despite a local government investigation concluding that Oyoun staff’s pro-Palestine posts on social media, which included the phrases “apartheid state” and “settler colonialism”, did not prove “antisemitic activity on behalf of Oyoun”. 

In a similar case, local government in Berlin announced that it would close down two advice and support centres for women and girls after staff used the phrase “from the river to the sea” on their private Instagram accounts and appeared as speakers at the Berlin Palestine Congress in April, which was shut down by police.

Another speaker at the conference, Yanis Varoufakis, former Greek finance minister and associate of MERA25, one of the few pro-Palestine political parties active in Germany, was allegedly told by police that he was banned from Germany. According to MERA25, after a group of international lawyers probed police for clarity, Berlin authorities told Varoufakis that there was a miscommunication and the ban did not exist.

Police issued another ban in late April after members of the pro-Palestine Irish Bloc Berlin were told that they could only hold their Irish-language discussion and singing group at the occupation camp outside the Reichstag in German or English unless a designated police interpreter was present.

Jewish pro-Palestine groups in Germany have also been subject to bans in recent months. In late March, Jüdische Stimme für gerechten Frieden in Nahost (Jewish Voice for a Just Peace in the Middle East) received notice from the Berliner Sparkasse bank that its account had been frozen and that Sparkasse required a list of members’ names.

Thumb image credit: Mo Photography Berlin / Shutterstock.com

Olivia Logan

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Olivia Logan

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