Sunday May 19, 2024

Germany bans Palestinian advocacy group Samidoun

Published : 03 Nov 2023, 00:53

  By Martina Herzog and Stella Venohr, dpa
German Minister of the Interior and Home Affairs Nancy Faeser speaks during a press conference as she will present banning orders for the Islamist Palestinian organization Hamas and the pro-Palestinian network Samidoun on Thursday. Photo: Michael Kappeler/dpa.

The German government has banned the Palestinian prisoner advocacy group Samidoun, and imposed further measures to stamp out support for the Islamist militant group Hamas, which is already listed as a terrorist organization in the European Union.

"Samidoun, as an international network, spreads anti-Israel and anti-Jewish propaganda under the guise of being a 'solidarity organization' for prisoners in various countries," Germany's Interior Minister Nancy Faeser said on Thursday.

As a result of the ban, any assets will be confiscated, and any internet presences or social media activities by the groups will be outlawed, according to Faeser's ministry. Anyone who continues to be active for the organizations is committing a criminal offence, the ministry said.

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz had already held out the prospect of a ban on the activities of the two organizations shortly after the Hamas attacks on Israel in early October.

Germany's domestic intelligence agency BfV estimates that about 450 people in the country actively support Hamas, which carried out brutal massacres in Israel on October 7. Groups affiliated with Hamas have been outlawed in Germany for years.

The steps announced on Thursday will further outlaw activities linked to Hamas.

Samidoun describes itself as a "Palestinian prisoner solidarity network."

A BfV assessment concluded that Samidoun is hostile to Israel and is directly linked to the radical nationalist Palestinian organization Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP), which calls for an armed struggle against Israel.

According to the ministry, Samidoun also operates in Germany under the name HIRAK or "Palestinian Youth Mobilization." The ministry accused Samidoun and affiliated groups of working to undermine the peaceful coexistance of groups within Germany, and described it as a threat to public order because of its support for the use of violence.

Samidoun activities in Germany have previously caused countrywide outrage. A few hours after Hamas militants began their assaults on Israel on October 7, some members of the group distributed sweets in a Berlin neighbourhood to celebrate the attacks.

"Holding spontaneous jubilant celebrations here in Germany in response to Hamas' terrible terrorist attacks against Israel, as we were forced to witness in Berlin, is intolerable," Faeser said. "It showed shows the anti-Semitic inhuman worldview of Samidoun in a disgusting way."

Germany's police union (GdP) welcomed the ban.

"Now the legal framework is clear and that helps a lot. The protection of Jewish life in Germany has the highest priority and therefore we will also fight this terrorist organization in Germany with toughness and professionalism," said Jochen Kopelke, the union's national chairman.