Brandenburg Gate flag solidarity gestures ′should cease′ | News | DW | 04.04.2017
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Brandenburg Gate flag solidarity gestures 'should cease'

The city has come under fire for not lighting up the gate in the Russian flag colors after Monday's St Petersburg attack. A Berlin senator has said the monument should no longer be used a symbol of solidarity.

It's sadly become a recurring gesture, but nevertheless remains a symbolic expression of solidarity. Berlin has in recent years chosen to honor the victims of terror attacks by lighting up its iconic Brandenburg Gate in the colors of the targeted country's flag.

In the past 18 months, the city has honored the victims of the terror attacks in Paris, Brussels, Istanbul and, most recently, London.

However, on Monday, following the deadly blast in St Petersburg, in which 14 people were killed and some 50 injured, the Berlin monument remained dark and inconspicuous in the night sky.

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Brandenburg Gate lit up to support Istanbul nightclub attack victims

The Berlin Senate's decision not to light up the Brandenburg Gate in the colors of the Russian flag drew strong criticism from Germany's Left Party. Berlin's senator for culture and Left Party lawmaker, Klaus Lederer, even proposed on Tuesday that the gesture be stopped altogether.

Writing on his Facebook page, Lederer said that the senate's decision not to light up the Brandenburg Gate indicated that the German capital followed a "hierarchy among terror victims."

Lederer added that the gesture risked becoming arbitrary and an almost daily occurrence. It should therefore be lit up one last time in the colors of the Russian flag and then never again, he said.

Earlier, Left party lawmaker Dietmar Bartsch said the decision not to light up the gate was a disappointment and that the "victims of terrorism, regardless of where the attack occurred, deserve the same respect and condolences."

An honor reserved for twin cities?

Berlin's senate explained on Monday night that it would not night light up the Brandenburg Gate because St Petersburg was not a twin city of Berlin's - unlike London, Paris, Brussels and Istanbul.

Last week, a city spokesperson told local broadcaster rbb that city mayor Michael Müller had decided that the gate should only be illuminated following of terror acts in partner cities, with certain exceptions.

Such exceptions would include when the gate was lit up in the colors of the Israeli flag in January following an attack on four soldiers in Jerusalem, and in the colors of the rainbow flag following an attack on an Orlando gay club. The city of Berlin said it made exceptions in these two instances because both cities were places with which the German capital shares a "special relationship."

The gate was not illuminated in the colors of the French flag following the Bastille Day attack in Nice last year in which 86 people were killed. However, the French embassy located just a few meters away was.

Dresden honors its twin city

Officials for the eastern German city of Dresden said on Tuesday that it would light up the facade of its Palace of Culture in the Russian flag that evening.

In a letter to the governor of St Petersburg, Dresden's mayor Dirk Hilbert wrote: "Our thoughts during these difficult hours are with the families of the victims, as well as the wounded."

Dresden and St Petersburg are twin cities.

dm/rc (dpa, AFP, epd)

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