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Berlin bans rappers from pro-Palestinian rally for songs praising murder of Jews

German capital’s office for internal affairs says singers were ‘crossing a line’ by questioning Israel’s right to exist, glorifying terrorism

People wave Palestian flags at the Brandenburg Gate during a pro-Palestinian rally in Berlin on September 25, 2019. (Tobias Schwarz/AFP)
People wave Palestian flags at the Brandenburg Gate during a pro-Palestinian rally in Berlin on September 25, 2019. (Tobias Schwarz/AFP)

BERLIN — Authorities in Berlin barred a planned appearance Wednesday by two rappers during a pro-Palestinian rally at the Brandenburg Gate on the grounds of anti-Semitic messages in their lyrics.

A spokesman for the German capital’s office for internal affairs, Martin Pallgen, told AFP that Shadi al-Bourini and Shadi al-Najjar would be banned from performing at the landmark in the city center.

He said that both Palestinian men had questioned Israel’s right to exist in the past and expressed hatred of Jews, thus “crossing a line.”

The decision followed widespread criticism by major media outlets, political officials and Israel’s ambassador to Germany, Jeremy Issacharoff, of the earlier invitation for the pair to appear at Wednesday’s event.

“You can’t allow people who glorify terrorism to perform in front of the Brandenburg Gate,” the symbol of German unity, said Greens politician Volker Beck.

The American Jewish Committee, which has an office in Berlin, said Germany’s commitment to atoning for the Holocaust and rejecting anti-Semitism required it to be particularly vigilant.

“It is unacceptable for calls for the murder of Jews to be made and the worst anti-Semitic stereotypes to be spread in this historic place” near the government quarter and the Holocaust memorial, it said in a statement.

The daily Bild reported that the rappers’ songs included calls to bomb Tel Aviv and quoted them praising terrorists who killed Jews.

The rally was still due to be held Wednesday evening with about 400 participants and more than 100 police officers standing watch.

Pallgen said Arabic speakers would be among them to determine if there were any calls to violence or racial hatred, both illegal under German law.

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