Germany threatens journalist with prison for speaking about Palestine

TEHRAN, Jul. 06 (MNA) – German authorities barred Palestinian-Canadian journalist Khaled Barakat from speaking at a Palestine solidarity event in Berlin, claiming his “anti-Semitic” speeches posed a threat to public order and could undermine relations between the country and the Israeli regime.

The activist has been prohibited from attending future political events and threatened with up to one year in prison, marking another success in the Israel lobby’s bid to clamp down on criticism abroad, Electronic Intifada reported.

Barakat had been invited to speak at an Arab community event in Berlin on 22 June to discuss Palestinian liberation and its implications for other Arab communities, as well as US President Donald Trump’s so-called Deal of the Century. But he was accosted by police on arrival.

“As soon as we left the U-Bahn station nearest the venue my wife and I noticed heavy police presence in the area, including multiple vans full of police,” Barakat told The Electronic Intifada.

“I was approached by a group of police and one officer spoke to me. He said: ‘You have an event here tonight and you are the speaker … you cannot speak.’”

The police took Barakat and his wife to a police station where government officials handed him an eight-page document prohibiting him from political activity.

The document, issued by the Berlin Foreigners Registration Office and seen by The Electronic Intifada, states in German that Barakat faces a ban on participating in specific events and a general “limit on your political activity until you leave the Federal Republic of Germany.”

“They [representatives of the foreigners office] told me that I am banned from speaking at any public event in Berlin and even attending meetings and gatherings,” Barakat said.

He said was also ordered to avoid social events of “more than 10 people,” or face a one-year prison sentence.

Barakat’s wife is also a Palestinian rights activist, but not Palestinian and she was not banned.

“After I was told to acknowledge that I had received the document we were released from the police station. We also noticed significant police presence on the way home,” Barakat added.

Barakat strongly refutes the claim that his speech would have caused tensions between Jewish and Arab communities in Berlin and asserts, rather, that authorities are trying to prevent a united front from emerging.

“The same forces advocating for and issuing this political ban against me are involved in repressing Jewish voices that criticize Zionism, Israeli policy and German policy on Israel,” he said.

Barakat noted that under Israel lobby pressure, the director of the Jewish Museum Berlin was recently forced to resign.

Moreover, the group Jewish Voice for Just Peace in the Middle East had its bank account closed. And, two Jewish activists with Israeli nationality are on trial for criminal charges alongside a Palestinian activist from Gaza for interrupting an Israeli politician who supported Israel’s 2014 assault on Gaza that killed more than 2,200 Palestinians including 550 children.

In recent years, German music festivals have also been banning international artists who refuse to denounce the nonviolent BDS campaign for Palestinian rights.

These facts, as well as the German parliament’s recent resolution smearing the BDS movement as anti-Semitic make it increasingly difficult for activists to advocate for Palestinian human rights.

The racism, political bans and growing repression aside, Barakat remains undeterred: “I firmly believe that the vast majority of people in Germany support justice for the Palestinian people and reject Israeli war crimes and apartheid, but they live in fear and I understand.”

MNA/PR

News Code 147260

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