Berlin police announced on Saturday that a pro-Palestinian rally scheduled for New Year’s Eve in Berlin’s Neukölln district should not take place.
Officials said the decision had been taken because of an imminent danger “that the gathering will result in inciting, antisemitic shouts, glorification of violence, the conveying of a willingness to use violence and thus intimidation and violence.”
How was the ban justified?
Berlin police chief Barbara Slowik said there had been fears that outside elements could join the demonstration and that organizers would not be able to control the event.
“Crimes are to be expected — in the area or from this gathering,” Slowik on Saturday told the broadcaster rbb24 Inforadio.
“The situation is emotional. An influx of troublemakers is to be expected who could use the meeting to commit crimes. No meeting leader could keep such a development under control. That’s why the police banned the demonstration.”
The event had been set to begin at 10:30 p.m. (2130 UTC/GMT) on Sunday evening as revelers prepared to celebrate the end of 2023 and the beginning of 2024. While organizers had said about 100 people would take part, police said they had expected a “much higher influx.”
The district mayor of Berlin-Neukölln, Martin Hikel, also defended the ban, telling the same broadcaster the event could be used to cause unrest rather than express solidarity with the people of Gaza.
“That’s why it’s understandable to ban the rally,” he said.
The organizers of the demonstration have accused Israel of purposeful indiscriminate killing of civilians in its war against Hamas in the Gaza Strip. Israel has vehemently rejected the accusation, saying its aim is to destroy Hamas.