Pro-Israel pickets decry Berlin police clampdown


BERLIN (JTA) — Organizers of a pro-Israel counter-demonstration in Berlin are seeking witnesses to what they describe as unacceptable police behavior.

Marchers protesting Saturday against the annual anti-Israel Al Quds Day demonstration in Berlin said police barred the 300 pro-Israel demonstrators from singing or playing Hebrew songs on their loudspeaker system, and from displaying Hebrew Jerusalem flags. In addition, they said police did not allow them to leave when they wished.

Some 400 anti-Israel demonstrators showed up for the annual event in Berlin. Al Quds Day, or Jerusalem Day — which focuses on the destruction of Israel — was initiated in 1979 by then-Iranian leader Ayatollah Khomeini after the Islamic revolution. It is held traditionally in cities with large Muslim populations on the first Saturday after Ramadan, which should be Sept. 19 this year. However,  the event was moved up a week because of a conflict with the Berlin Marathon.

According to reports on the German-Jewish Web site HaGalil, the anti-Israel demonstrators carried flags of Hezbollah and posters of its leader, Hassan Nasrallah.

The pro-Israel counter-demonstrators claimed police tolerated the Hitler salute — illegal in Germany — from a leader of the anti-Israel demonstrators.

The pro-Israel protest was organized by the German-Israeli Society, the Jewish Community of Berlin, the haKadima Educational Association, the exile opposition group Green Party of Iran and the Amadeu-Antonio Foundation.

Berlin-based pro-Israel activist Jorg Fischer-Aharon said in a statement that the legality of police actions on that day was being investigated.


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