Repression Against Antiwar Activists in Germany

The German state is cynically instrumentalising the anger at the atrocities in Gaza to fan Islamophobia and incite against the left.

21 October 2023

Since the beginning of the war in Gaza there have to been protests with thousands of participants all over the world. In Germany they face repression, police brutality and defamation, which include systemic racism.

The police in various cities such as Berlin and Hamburg have forbidden the demonstrations and criminalised those who took part in them. In a demonstration with around 1000 participants, 127 were arrested. A demonstration initiated by a parents’ organisation under the title “No room for racism, no room for violence!” was forbidden, so were the demonstrations “Peace in the Middle East” and “Solidarity with civilians in Gaza”, because the police announced that there might be “Hate speech and antisemitic calls”. The Hamburg police went further and forbade a joint demonstration of Palestinian and Kurdish people who have been demonised for years in service of Turkey’s brutal Erdogan regime, which has again killed 150 people in Syria and the Kurdistan Region since the beginning of October. People are out on the street despite these measures. The ban on demonstrations causes this rage to erupt in other forms such as burning cars and small riots. Such elements can also be seized upon by the opposite camp — so they can divide us and harden the repressive apparatus of the State. A left-wing leadership with a clearer plan for the building of a wide solidarity movement could channel this anger into more effective channels of struggle.

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Repression in schools

The education minister in Berlin wrote a letter to school managements banning “Symbols, gestures and expression of opinions which are not yet criminal”. For instance, wearing a Keffiyeh (Traditional scarf which has acquired the meaning of solidarity with Palestinian people) and stickers such as “Free Palestine”. In one case a teacher physically assaulted a school-student for presenting a Palestine flag during break time. A demonstration in response to the attack was forbidden. It has been made clear that there’s no room for democratic discussion about the current situation at school.

Islamophobia, antisemitism, and the right

The German state is cynically instrumentalising the anger at the atrocities in Gaza to fan Islamophobia and incite against the left. There are antisemitic elements in some of the demonstrations and they should be harshly criticised and removed. Attacks on Jewish institutions such as the synagogue in Berlin must be strongly condemned. However, tarnishing the whole movement as antisemitic is a blatant lie. Islamophobia and racism against Palestinians are serious problems.

One element that is seldom mentioned is the constant racist and antisemitic propaganda and attacks by the German extreme right. In 2022 in Germany there were 20,967 reported crimes by the extreme right out of which 1,016 were physical attacks. There have been many cases of extreme-right networks within the German police and military. The islamophobia that is currently being spread is feeding these dangerous forces. They are not the ones who are going to protect us from racism and antisemitism!

Many people are understandably and correctly angry at the Israeli state which is responsible for the deaths of thousands of civilians in Gaza and the West Bank. The German state and the EU are supporting Israel’s brutal attack and blockade of Gaza and accuse those who oppose it of being antisemitic. The heavy bombardment of Gaza has cost the lives of over 4000 people in the last two weeks. The continuation of the bombings and a ground invasion will cost the lives of thousands more and could lead to a regional war. The indiscriminate rocket fire by Hamas across the country and the attacks — including gruesome acts of terror — on towns and communities near Gaza during which dozens were kidnapped into Gaza has cost the lives of over 1000 Israelis, mostly civilians. We stand in solidarity with those who have lost their loved ones and with ordinary men and women from all communities, on both sides of the fence, who face the horrors of war.

  • Stop the massacre in Gaza!
  • Solidarity with all victims of war, terrorism and state terror!
  • International mobilisation against the massacre in Gaza, hands off our democratic rights!
  • For a mass movement against occupation, poverty and capitalism!
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