Berlin (dpa) – Following the riots during protests against Israel in Germany, Federal Interior Minister Horst Seehofer (CSU) has announced that he will crack down on all forms of anti-Semitism.
“We will not tolerate Israeli flags burning on German soil and attacking Jewish institutions,” said Seehofer of “Bild am Sonntag”. “Anyone who spreads anti-Semitic hatred will feel the full harshness of the rule of law.” He provided personal and material support to the police in the federal states.
In view of the escalation of the conflict between Israel and Palestinian Hamas, thousands of people took to the streets in German cities on Saturday to express their solidarity with the Palestinians. There were riots at various meetings. In Berlin, protesters beat police officers and threw stones and bottles at them. Fireworks were also thrown. The police used pepper spray.
In Mannheim, too, stones were thrown at the police after a pro-Palestinian rally broke down. Four officers were slightly injured, a police spokesman said Saturday night. In addition, a man tried to light an Israeli flag. The police stopped that and arrested the man. In the days before, there had been anti-Semitic and anti-Israeli demonstrations in several cities, including lighting Israeli flags.
Interior Minister Herbert Reul (CDU) of North Rhine-Westphalia fears that conflicts will worsen if violence in the Middle East continues. “We are already seeing a high degree of emotionality and mobilization, especially among young people of Arab descent, but also among Turkish right-wing extremists,” he told “Welt am Sonntag”. However, this is not about criticizing Israel. The unifying factor is pure anti-Semitism, which we consistently pursue by all means of the rule of law. “
Bavarian Interior Minister Joachim Herrmann (CSU) told the newspaper: “I warn all rioters, chaos and criminals: the Bavarian police will be significantly more present at rallies related to Israel in the coming days. Crimes committed during the meeting will not be tolerated and will be consistently prosecuted. “This applies to anti-Semitic insults as well as derogatory state symbols.
The Minister of the Interior of Baden-Württemberg Thomas Strobl (CDU) told the “Welt am Sonntag”. “If a demonstration violates the law, it will be banned or rescinded, and offenses will be harshly and consistently prosecuted.” His colleague Boris Pistorius (SPD) from Lower Saxony called for a broader fight against anti-Semitism: “We need to invest even more in prevention and education, for all citizens, whether they are young, old or whatever their origins.”
SPD leader Saskia Esken demanded that the state ensure that Jews are safe in Germany. “Especially in view of our German history, anti-Jewish and anti-Semitic slogans are absolutely unacceptable,” she told the Funke media group newspapers. “We do not allow rights or religious fanatics to question the achievements of our open, colorful and free society.”
The President of the Christian Democrats in the European Parliament, Manfred Weber, proposed criminalizing incitement to religion across the EU. Freedom of belief is at the heart of the European model of society, the deputy CSU chairman said in the papers of the Funke media group. “It would be worth considering that EU countries should jointly investigate whether hate speech against religions in an appropriate form should become a criminal offense in all countries.”
Israeli ambassador Jeremy Issacharoff advocated for Muslims and Jews to stand up together against the increasing polarization in Germany. “The Jewish and Muslim communities can have a lot in common, and in some places in Germany there are close contacts between these communities,” said Issacharoff of “Welt am Sonntag”. This bond can make a big difference. “That can also be a basis for jointly counteracting the currently growing hatred.”