Germany to ban Hamas's flag in wake of pro-Palestine protests

Demonstrations during Israel-Palestine conflict cause alarm over anti-Semitism

A protester chants slogans as he holds a Hamas flag outside the residence of the Israeli Ambassador in Ankara on May 14, 2018 during a demonstration against US President Donald Trump's decision to move the US embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. (Photo by ADEM ALTAN / AFP)

Germany is expected to ban Hamas's flag after pro-Palestinian protests caused alarm during the recent conflict in the Middle East.

The German government blamed Hamas’s rocket fire for the flare-up in Israel-Palestine tensions that reached its peak with 11 days of conflict in May.

The flag was seen at pro-Palestinian protests that took place across Germany at the height of the conflict.

Some of these protests involved Israeli flags being burned and police said they stopped protesters from marching on a synagogue.

Thorsten Frei, a senior politician in Chancellor Angela Merkel’s Christian Democrats (CDU), said the move to ban Hamas’s flag was meant as a signal of reassurance to Germany’s Jewish population.

"We don't want the flags of terror organisations to be waved in Germany," Mr Frei told the Welt am Sonntag newspaper.

Hamas's inclusion on an EU terrorism list is expected to form the basis of the flag ban.

It would see Germany’s criminal code expanded to cover symbols belonging to organisations blacklisted by the EU.

The move has been agreed by the CDU, its Bavarian sister party (CSU) and their Social Democrat (SPD) coalition partners, Mr Frei said.

Armin Laschet, the CDU chairman and the party's candidate to succeed Angela Merkel at September's general election, came out in favour of a ban last month.

“This flag, which stands for terrorism, has to be banned. It cannot be displayed on German streets,” he said.

Police officers detain a person after riots during a protest in support of Palestinians, in Berlin, Germany, May 9, 2021. REUTERS/Christian Mang

Terror status 

Hamas lost an appeal last September against its inclusion on the EU terrorism list, which leads to sanctions and asset freezes.

The militant group argued the EU had made a “mistaken characterisation” and claimed the listing was “not substantiated by any evidence”.

The conflict in May broke out after weeks of tensions in Jerusalem. Rockets were fired into Israel, which responded with heavy air strikes on Gaza.

A ceasefire was brokered by Egypt after 11 days of violence that ended with both sides claiming victory.

Germany placed blame for the violence squarely on Hamas’s rocket fire and said Israel had a right to defend itself.

Ms Merkel led the condemnation of anti-Jewish slogans which were heard during protests in Germany.

The head of the Central Council of Muslims in Germany also condemned anti-Semitic chants.