German police crack down on Palestinian activists in Berlin on Nakba Day

German police crack down on Palestinian activists in Berlin on Nakba Day
3 min read
17 May, 2022
German police arrested around 20 people in Berlin on Sunday for showing support for Palestinians, in what activists called an unprovoked attack.
Those arrested said police asked questions about their clothing, and then assaulted them [source: Getty]

Berlin police arrested dozens of pro-Palestine activists on Sunday in a crackdown against expressions of solidarity with Palestinians on Nakba Day. 

German authorities, who last week banned a number of pro-Palestine demonstrations in the capital, arrested around 20 people on May 15 for showing support for the Palestinian cause, including clothes with the colours of the Palestine flag or a keffiyeh

Activists in the capital told The New Arab they were beaten by police in 'unprovoked assaults' and detained as part of an ongoing clampdown on any "visual presence of Palestine" in Berlin. 

“This is a coordinated and structural way they discriminate against us,” Majed Abusalama, a prominent activist and co-founder of Palestine Speaks, an anti-racist coalition said.

"Anti-Palestinian repression is structural and coordinated by all German official levels from the senate to the police to the political parties to the court. All of them united to show loyalty to the Israeli Apartheid. This has been increasing throughout the last decades," he added.

"German police are scared of anything Palestinian," he said.

Germany - through anti-BDS legislation and heavy-handed policing - was trying to rob Palestinians and allies of any "political agency", he added.

He said what happened on Sunday undermined democratic ideals of free speech and freedom of assembly and was part of "a new wave of anti-Palestine repression against us".  

However, Palestine Speaks said that it is pushing back against the German government's measures.

Abusalama said police approached him for wearing a Keffiyeh, one of the most well-known symbols of Palestinian resistance. They asked him why he was wearing the scarf, and whether he was protesting. 

The activist said he felt like he was being interrogated by Israeli soldiers in German police clothing. 

Abusalama said he was arrested and beaten when he tried to livestream the incident. He was detained for one hour and afterwards went to the hospital after nearly dislocating his shoulder when police arrested him. 

Ramsay Kilani, a member of Palestine Speaks and long-time Palestinian activist, who lost his father and five half-siblings following an Israeli attack on Gaza in 2014, said around a hundred people were on Berlin’s streets on Sunday for the rally. 

The protesters, he said, were just "passing by", there was no shouting and no provocation of the police. 

He said that German authorities "cornered us, and took our details one-by-one". 

Kilani said he was bruised when the police dragged him during the "round-up". 

"This is alarming and dangerous," the Palestinian activist added.

Berlin police announced last Thursday that five peaceful pro-Palestine demonstrations registered over the weekend were banned, according to Anadolu Agency. 

German authorities alleged that there was a risk of inflammatory and anti-Semitic chants and the glorification of violence.

Palestine activist Abusalama said Germany had "weaponised antisemitism" in order to discredit forms of Palestine solidarity.

"This is catastrophic for the German community," he added. "I am shocked at how low German authorities can sink." 

Sunday’s demonstrations were organised to commemorate the Nakba, the expulsion of the vast majority of the Palestinian population from their homes in what is now Israel by Jewish militias in 1948.  

The New Arab contacted German police for this article but received no response by the time of publication.