All the parties in Germany’s coalition government have agreed on a ban on the flags of the terrorist group Hamas, the Sunday newspaper Welt am Sonntag, circulation half million, reported (Große Koalition verbietet Hamas-Flaggen). The decision comes in response to several anti-Semitic incidents last month during anti-Israel rallies in Germany.
A proposal to ban the flag was originally put forward by Chancellor Angela Merkel’s Christian Democratic Union (CDU). Thorsten Frei, the deputy parliamentary spokesperson for the CDU, stated: “We do not want the flags of terrorist organizations to be waved on German soil.”
CDU’s coalition partner, the center-left Social Democratic Party (SPD), initially raised constitutional concerns about the proposed ban, but in the end, supported it. Frei told Welt am Sonntag: “I’m very pleased that the SPD has joined our initiative. In doing so, we can send a clear signal to our Jewish citizens.”
The CDU’s candidate to replace Chancellor Merkel, Armin Laschet, last month called for the Hamas flags to be banned, in response to anti-Semitic activities in Germany when synagogues were attacked, Israeli flags were burned, and anti-Semitic slurs were used in cities across Germany, amid demonstrations against Israel’s retaliatory war against Hamas that shelled its civilian centers with some 4,000 rockets.
Welt Am Sonntag obtained a June 7 letter from Justice Minister Christine Lambrecht to her cabinet colleague and Interior Minister Horst Seehofer (Christian Social Union in Bavaria) regarding Hamas and the PFLP, saying: “It seems to me to be necessary to advance the necessary prohibition procedures as quickly as possible, especially since the legally problematic use of symbols by these associations can then be punished with legal certainty.”
However, bans on the groups themselves require lengthy legislative processes in which sufficient material that is legally valid must first be collected, the newspaper notes, stressing that such a ban would not be feasible during the current legislative period. The banning of symbols and flags is easier – albeit less effective.
In her letter to the interior minister, Lambrecht refers to the ban proposal, noting, “According to an initial assessment, I consider the specific approach chosen there to be in need of revision, out of respect for Parliament. I asked my office to examine whether a modified variant of this proposal would be conceivable.”