Germans ban even the Irish from singing about Palestine

Further cracking down on pro-Palestinian activity, Berlin’s police force told protesters that they can no longer chant or speak in Hebrew and Irish at marches, The Irish Independent reported on April 22. 

Since Hamas’ rampage on October 7, those waving the Palestinian flag, donning keffiyehs and marching in solidarity with the people of Gaza have been targeted by the German authorities. 

On April 18, thousands gathered outside the Reichstag, chanting pro-Palestinian slogans in English, Irish and Hebrew before police arrived and urged them to stop. 

Caoimhe McAllister, a protester who attended the recent demonstration, also highlighted that there have been clampdowns on Arabic language at previous events. 

She said: “At that camp, especially in the last days of Ramadan, there was a crackdown on any Arabic-speaking, including arresting someone. 

“So we decided to highlight what we see as a really worrying human rights concern. We just had to highlight this by speaking in Irish (at the rally on April 18).”  

Ireland, seen as the most pro-Palestinian country in the European Union, has a long history of highlighting the Palestinian struggle, which they see as being mirrored to their own long and brutal struggle against British colonialism. Various members of Sinn Fein, a prominent Irish republican and socialist political party, have in the past been invited to speak at pro-Palestinian rallies within the country as well as in the UK. 

Ireland’s iron fist backing of the Palestinians is in stark contrast to Germany’s strong support for the State of Israel and the aforementioned stifling of Palestinian voices. 

Chancellor Olaf Scholz said in October 2023: “Our own history, our responsibility deriving from the Holocaust makes it our permanent duty to stand up for the existence and security of the State of Israel. This responsibility guides us.” 

READ: Baria Alamuddin: Israel’s allies are losing the media war in Gaza

Police interrupted and cancelled a Palestine Congress on April 12 in the German capital just minutes after it kicked off and one of the main speakers, British-Palestinian surgeon and newly elected Glasgow University Rector Ghassan Abu Sittah, was denied entry into the country by the authorities. 

Furthermore, he also faced threats from the same authorities, who warned him about making a speech to the conference via video link.  

A day prior, police arrested 34-year-old Jewish man Udi Raz, a board member of the Jewish Voice for a Just Peace in the Middle East, after they cancelled and then banned the group’s three-day conference on Palestine. 

Following the arrest, Raz, who noted that he had lost his job over the past six months for his activism, affirmed: “Germany is promoting only those Jews who are willing to produce anti-Muslim discourse. Jews who do not perceive Muslims as such are being marked as a threat not just to the German nation but to Jews themselves.” 

Recently in Berlin, a formal meeting between Scholz and his British counterpart Rishi Sunak was met with a small but dedicated crowd of angry protesters bellowing “no to genocide” and “stop funding genocide” – a nod to the two countries’ continued support for Israel as well as arms sales to the country despite the bloodshed in Gaza, where over 34,000 have been killed in the space of six months. 

The Irish Independent/ The Guardian

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