German government agrees to ban Hamas flag after antisemitic incidents | News | DW | 20.06.2021

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German government agrees to ban Hamas flag after antisemitic incidents

The German government wants to send a message to Jewish citizens after several antisemitic incidents took place amid pro-Palestinian protests last month.

Hamas supporters in Gaza City during a rally

Hamas has governed the Gaza Strip since 2007 and is considered a terrorist organization by the US and EU

All parties in Germany's grand coalition government have agreed to ban the flag of Palestinian Islamic fundamentalist group Hamas, the Welt am Sonntag newspaper said in a report published Sunday.

The move comes after several antisemitic incidents occurred last month in Germany during anti-Israel rallies.

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What did the German government say about the ban?

A proposal to ban the flag was originally put forward by Chancellor Angela Merkel's Christian Democratic Union (CDU). 

"We do not want the flags of terrorist organizations to be waved on German soil," said Thorsten Frei, the deputy parliamentary spokesperson for the CDU and its Bavarian sister party, the Christian Social Union.

The center-left Social Democratic Party (SPD), the CDU's coalition partner, raised constitutional concerns about the proposal but later backed the initiative.

"I'm very pleased that the SPD has joined our initiative. In doing so, we can send a clear signal to our Jewish citizens," Frei added, according to the Welt am Sonntag.

CDU chancellor candidate Armin Laschet had also called for the Hamas flag to be banned last month in response to antisemitic activities in Germany.

Synagogues were attacked, Israeli flags were burned and antisemitic slurs were used in cities across Germany in May amid demonstrations against Israel's 11-day war against Hamas in the Gaza Strip. 

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Has the German government taken similar actions before?

The German government has taken similar actions towards other anti-Israel Middle Eastern groups. 

The German Interior Ministry announced in April of last year it would ban Lebanese Shiite group Hezbollah and designate it a terrorist organization. The move made it illegal to show public support for Hezbollah, including the waving of the group's flag.

The US and EU, including Germany, have also labeled both Hezbollah and Hamas as terrorist organizations. 

Hamas, whose name serves as an Arabic acronym for Islamic Resistance Movement, was established in 1987. The group became the de facto governing authority of the Gaza Strip in 2007 and has since fought several wars with Israel. 

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