A demonstrator on a lamp post waves the Palestinian flag during a rally for Al-Quds Day, an event intended to express solidarity with the Palestinian people, on July 25, 2014 in Berlin, Germany
A demonstrator on a lamp post waves the Palestinian flag during a rally for Al-Quds Day, an event intended to express solidarity with the Palestinian people, on July 25, 2014 in Berlin, Germany © Adam Berry - AFP
A demonstrator on a lamp post waves the Palestinian flag during a rally for Al-Quds Day, an event intended to express solidarity with the Palestinian people, on July 25, 2014 in Berlin, Germany
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AFP
Last updated: July 25, 2014

Pro-Gaza rally held in Berlin under close police watch

About 1,000 pro-Palestinian demonstrators marched through Berlin Friday, closely watched by police for any banned anti-Semitic slogans and separated from pro-Israel rallies.

More than 1,000 officers were on guard in the rainy capital for the rally against Israel's Gaza offensive that has killed more than 845 people, most of them Palestinian civilians.

A few hundred counter-protesters waved Israeli flags and while the groups shouted at each other, there were no violent clashes.

"We are keeping the groups apart," a police spokesman told AFP.

Jewish groups and German politicians had voiced outrage in recent days that protesters at past pro-Gaza rallies had chanted anti-Jewish slurs and hate speech, in the country that perpetrated the Holocaust.

The main demonstration Friday marked Quds Day (Jerusalem Day) in support of the Palestinians, an event initiated by Iran in 1979 and held annually on the last Friday of the Muslim fasting month of Ramadan.

Protesters shouted slogans such as "Israel, child killers" and "Stop killing the innocents" but avoided chants against "Jews".

At rallies in Germany last week, protesters waving Palestinian flags and signs of late leader Yasser Arafat had shouted slogans such as "Death to Israel" and "Zionists are fascists, killing children and civilians".

In the same week, France was rocked by violent pro-Palestinian protests in and near Paris.

Police in Berlin made clear that no anti-Jewish chants or calls to violence would be tolerated, and that burning flags and effigies would also be forbidden.

Anti-Semitic slogans and symbols are illegal in Germany, where atonement for the slaughter of some six million European Jews in the Holocaust is a foundation of the post-war order.

Chancellor Angela Merkel had this week pledged the country's Jewish community her unwavering support, with her spokesman calling such outbursts "an attack on our freedom and tolerance".

The top-selling Bild daily dedicated its front page to appeals against Jewish hatred by dozens of celebrities, politicians and business leaders.

"There is no room in Germany for anti-Semitism. Never again!" the newspaper said in an editorial.

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