Al Jazeera, November 8, 2023
German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier says Germans of Arab and Palestinian descent should take steps to distance themselves from anti-Semitism and the Palestinian group Hamas as pro-Palestinian demonstrations in the country have triggered controversy.
In remarks on Wednesday, Steinmeier said he was concerned that fighting between Israel and Hamas could have a disruptive effect on social relations in Germany.
“Speak for yourselves and make a clear stand against terror,” Steinmeier said, adding that Palestinians had the right to express anguish over civilians killed in Israel’s attacks on Gaza but that this freedom did not include “calls for the destruction of the state of Israel”.
The comments have drawn criticism, adding to concerns that efforts by European countries to contain tensions over the war that began on October 7 may be crossing over into discrimination against Palestinians.
“Jews should never be made to account for Israel’s actions,” Hugh Lovatt, a foreign policy analyst with the European Council on Foreign Relations, said in a social media post. “So why should Germany ask its Muslim citizens to account for Hamas’s?”
Steinmeier insisted that there must be no anti-Muslim racism or “general suspicion against Muslims”.