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Wednesday, January 14, 2009

German police apologize for removing Israeli flag

German police have apologized for breaking into a house in Duisburg, in the western part of Germany, and removing an Israeli flag that was being displayed in a window as Islamist protesters were marching past. But the incident has already upset a lot of people in Germany, and this may not be the last of it.
Around 10,000 people had gathered on Saturday morning at the central station in the city, located in the Ruhr region, to protest against Israel's course of action in the Gaza Strip. The protest, organized by the Islamist group Milli Görüs, which, although legal, has been monitored for years by German domestic intelligence agencies in charge of observing potentially radical or fundamentalist groups.

After a short time, the protest passed along one of the city's main thoroughfares. At a house on the corner, protesters spotted two Israeli flags -- one hanging from a balcony and the second from the window of a bedroom inside the apartment. Twenty-five-year-old student Peter P.* and his 26-year-old girlfriend had mounted them there.

...

It wasn't the first time, either. At the beginning of the year, P. flew the Israeli flag on the day commemorating the Holocaust. And in May, he flew the flag for several weeks because the state of Israel was celebrating its 60th birthday. For years, Hamas fired rockets at Israel, and few people took notice, P. told SPIEGEL ONLINE, explaining his reasons for flying the flag. This time around, he said, he did it to express "solidarity with the sole democracy in the region."

P. also knew that on that day people participating in the protest march against the Israeli offensive would go past his house. But he said he was also concerned about what he saw as the "greatest onslaught of anti-Semitism in Europe since 1945," namely marches against Israel's actions that included anti-Semitic hate campaigns that he claims are being tolerated in cities like Paris and London.

As the first protesters recognized the flag, P. and his girlfriend were standing on the street nearby. He said he followed the march because he wanted to document any incidents of anti-Semitism or hate campaigns. He described the sentiment that developed within the crowd as it viewed the Israeli flag as tantamount to that of a "lynch mob." "Death to Israel," some of the protestors shouted. He said the police appeared to be overburdened.

"Suddenly," the student explained, "I saw a police officer on the balcony on the second floor" in the apartment located directly beneath his. The officer ripped down the Israeli flag that had been affixed to P.'s balcony. A short time later he witnessed an officer inside his own apartment taking down the flag that had been hung in the bedroom.

...

P. said he was "shocked" by the incident. Afraid to return to his apartment, he first went to a friend's place nearby. Around two hours later he returned with his girlfriend and an acquaintance -- but he claims youths were still throwing things at the house.

He said he didn't return to the apartment until they had left. A police car passed by and P. asked the officers to come to his apartment. The officers warned that P. and his girlfriend should stay away from the window and that police would watch the house for a few hours.

"I was beside myself," P. said, "I was afraid." Two hours passed without any incident. Then P.'s acquaintance, also in the apartment, went out to the balcony for a smoke and claims he was immediately cursed as a "shit jew".

Two minutes later, the police returned to P.'s door -- and for the second time they did something unexpected. They ordered the acquaintance to leave the apartment.

...

Initially, Duisburg police defended their actions. In its Monday issue, the Westdeutsche Allgemeine Zeitung newspaper quoted a police spokesperson stating that the flags had been removed in order to de-escalate a potentially dangerous situation. German news agency DDP quoted the spokesperson on Tuesday saying "the right thing had been done here."

But by Tuesday afternoon, the city's chief of police, Rolf Cebin, expressed his apologies for the incident. "I deeply regret the fact that, especially, the feelings of Jewish people were hurt. From the standpoint of the present, it was the wrong decision."

Despite the apology, the row may not be over yet. The state chapter of the center-left Social Democratic Party (SPD) wants a discussion about the police actions to take place in the state parliament in Düsseldorf. "We are going to raise the issue during a meeting of the state domestic affairs committee on Thursday," the party's deputy parliamentary chief, Ralf Jäger, told SPIEGEL ONLINE. "The central question is this: Why was the potential for danger during the protest so underestimated that police were forced into a situation in which they had to concede to the demands of violent (protesters) rather than (protect) the right to the freedom of speech of others?"
Actually, the central question is why police conceded to the demands of violent protesters rather than protecting the freedom of speech of others - and not why they police were forced into a situation where they 'had to' concede to those demands. If Europe wants to save itself from the Islamic onslaught, it had better learn the difference between those two questions.

And for those who haven't seen it yet, here is a videotape of Saturday's incident. Let's go to the videotape.

2 Comments:

At 6:42 PM, Blogger NormanF said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

 
At 6:43 PM, Blogger NormanF said...

The implication being of course is that viewpoints of both sides are morally equal. That's as far from the truth as can be and yet it dominates Western thinking to the Middle East conflict and keeps people from comprehending the true nature of Hamas. Removing an Israeli flag from a German home won't change the essence of Hamas.

 

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