German government to ban Hamas flag

German government to ban Hamas flag
Thorsten Frei, the deputy parliamentary spokesperson for the Christian Democratic Union (CDU), said the flags of "terrorist organisations" will not be waved on German soil.

2 min read
20 June, 2021
Palestinians hold up the green Hamas flag during a protest in the West Bank [Getty]

The German government will ban the flag of Palestinian Islamist movement Hamas, in a bid to curb what it sees as antisemitic incidents during protests last month.

The party in the grand coalition government agreed unanimously on the move, according to a report by Welt am Sonntag newspaper on Sunday.

The proposal to add a supplement to Section 86 in the Criminal Code had been put forward by Chancellor Angela Merkel's Christian Democratic Union (CDU) after protests condemning Israel's 11-day bombardment of Gaza last month spilled into violence.

Amid heightened tensions, synagogues and memorial sites were vandalised and Israeli flags were burned across Germany.

The green flag with white calligraphy of the Shahada, the Islamic oath, has been spotted at the rallies.

"We do not want the flags of terrorist organisations to be waved on German soil," said Thorsten Frei, the deputy parliamentary spokesperson for the CDU and its Bavarian sister party, the Christian Social Union.

Hamas is designated a terrorist group by the European Union, as well as Israel and the United States. Some countries, including the United Kingdom, Australia and New Zealand have designated only its military wing as a terrorist organisation.

The CDU’s proposal initially encountered resistance from the centre-left Social Democratic Party (SPD), an ally of Merkel, which expressed concerns that the ban might be unconstitutional.

The party later backed the initiative. "I'm very pleased that the SPD has joined our initiative. In doing so, we can send a clear signal to our Jewish citizens," Frei added, according to the Welt am Sonntag.

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The move follows similar action taken in April 2020, when the German Interior Ministry made it illegal to show public support for the Lebanese Shia movement Hezbollah, including waving the group's flag.

Speaking to Deutsche Welle News, German antisemitism commissioner Felix Klein said in the aftermath of the attacks against Jews in Germany that “it is appalling to make them responsible for the acts of the Israeli government. This is not acceptable.”

Germany's Foreign Minister, Heiko Maas, expressed his support for Israel during its offensive on the besieged Gaza Strip in a move that signalled Germany’s staunch support for Tel Aviv.

Maas visited Gaza after Israeli raids killed over 260 Palestinians, including 66 children.

"Let me say it again very clearly: For us the security of Israel and the security of all Jews in Germany are non-negotiable and Israel can always rely on that," said Maas.