Germany: Berlin court rules DW firing of Palestinian journalist not legally justified

Germany: Berlin court rules DW firing of Palestinian journalist not legally justified
Palestinian-Jordanian journalist Farah Maraqa tweeted on Monday that it was a 'date for celebrations', saying a German court 'gave me justice today'.
3 min read
06 September, 2022
Farah Maraqa was among seven Arab members of staff fired by DW in February [Mateusz Slodkowski/SOPA Images/LightRocket/Getty-file photo]

A Berlin labour court ruled on Monday that German public broadcaster Deutsche Welle was not legally justified in firing Palestinian-Jordanian journalist Farah Maraqa over antisemitism allegations.

A judge ordered DW to return Farah Maraqa to work starting from the date of the ruling and pay her wages for the time she spent dismissed, according to the Euro-Mediterranean Human Rights Monitor.

Euro-Med Monitor said it "welcomed" the decision that Maraqa's firing was not legally justified.

Maraqa tweeted on Monday that it was a "date for celebrations", saying the court "gave me justice today".

Her lawyer, Hauke Rinsdorf, told The New Arab the court "ruled totally in our favour in the case of the unlawful dismissal of Farah", saying Maraqa is now entitled to return to her work since the court held DW is "obliged to reinstate her".

"It's not just a relief for Farah in the difficult situation Deutsche Welle brought her into, but also a proof [of] the strength of the rule of law," Rinsdorf added.

"Regarding the reputation damage, it was severe, we are aware of that, and that's why we conditioned any settlement with reputation rehabilitation.

"Now we have the court's decision which speaks for itself. One may see this as an important step to restore Farah's professional reputation as a journalist."

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The ruling can be appealed by DW up to mid-September, pan-Arab news outlet Al Jazeera reported.

In response to a request for comment from The New Arab, a DW spokesperson said: "We have taken due notice of the ruling and are now waiting for the grounds of the ruling. We reserve the right to take further legal action."

The pro-Palestine European Legal Support Center (ELSC) said it was "proud to have provided support" for Maraqa.

"It is a relief that the judge ruled in Farah’s favour and held Deutsche Welle accountable for this illegal dismissal," said ELSC director Giovanni Fassina.

"We hope this sends a clear message that they should stop their censorship practices."

Maraqa was among seven Arab members of staff fired by DW in February following an independent external investigation into antisemitism allegations in the media outlet's Arabic news section.

Euro-Med Monitor previously reviewed the investigation's report, calling it "biased, flawed and dangerous".

The human rights organisation criticised the inquiry for using the controversial International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) definition of antisemitism, which critics say threatens free speech on Palestine and Israel.

Euro-Med Monitor also said the report "entails numerous Israeli talking points".

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The rights group's chief, Ramy Abdu, said on Monday the court's ruling is a victory for human rights.

He said opposing DW's decision to fire the Arab journalists was necessary so as not to leave space for increased efforts to purge Arabs from the German media.

"Journalists' resistance to the decision is necessary not only for their cases, but also to protect the right to freedom of opinion and expression everywhere," Abdu said.

The German court's Monday decision comes after it made a similar ruling in favour of Palestinian journalist Maram Salem and against DW in July.

A third case has been settled, according to Euro-Med Monitor.

Note: This article was updated at 17:13 BST (GMT+1) on 6 September 2022 after a comment was received from Deutsche Welle.