By Sarah Marsh
BERLIN (Reuters) – Germany faced accusations from Muslim countries of silencing pro-Palestinian voices and failing to do enough to tackle Islamophobia in a United Nations review of its human rights record on Thursday.
German authorities have cracked down on pro-Palestinian groups since the Hamas attacks on Israel on Oct. 7, and refused to authorize many pro-Palestinian protests, saying the curbs are to stop public disorder and prevent public antisemitism.
Supporters of the Palestinians say they feel blocked from publicly expressing support or concern for people in the Hamas-controlled enclave of Gaza without risking arrest, their jobs or immigration status.
Indonesia’s envoy to the U.N. in Geneva urged Germany to “ensure the freedom of opinion and expression is fulfilled by avoiding discriminatory treatments by police officers against activists, in particular to the peaceful pro-Palestinian protesters.”
That viewpoint was expressed by other Muslim countries, which also called for Germany to better tackle Islamophobic crimes that have been on the rise since the start of the Israel-Hamas war, in tandem with a surge in antisemitic incidents, according to activists.
“The rise of attacks on mosques and NSU (neo-Nazi) murders does demonstrate deep systemic failures of the German police and justice system in tackling such crimes,” said Turkey’s envoy.
“We recommend Germany to take serious steps against Islamophobic and xenophobic attacks and practices, including a comprehensive review of its police force and justice system, as well as additional protection for mosques,” the Turkish envoy added.
Germany’s Commissioner for Human Rights Policy Luise Amtsberg said there were limits on the right to peaceful demonstration in connection with criminal acts.
“Terrorism must not be celebrated,” she said. “We have had prohibitions on demonstrations when it is to incite antisemitism, and freedom of opinion must not be abused to propagate hate.”
Separately, Chancellor Olaf Scholz said earlier on Thursday that the country that perpetrated the Holocaust could not tolerate antisemitism. At the same time, however, the tensions fanned by the Israel-Hamas war should not be used to question the place of the more than 5 million Muslims in its society.
All 193 U.N. member states are subject to scrutiny as part of the review process established in 2008. A three-person U.N. “troika” will submit recommendations to the German government next week.
(Reporting by Sarah Marsh; Editing by Bill Berkrot)
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