After the dissolution of a controversial “Palestine Congress” in Berlin, the organizers sharply criticized the actions of the police. Democratic rights have been undermined, it was said during a press conference. There were also protests on the streets.

The police broke up the event on Friday around two hours after it began. The up to 250 congress participants were asked to leave the hall early in the evening. The reason given by the assembly authority was a speech broadcast via video by a man who is banned from political activity in Germany because of hate speech against Israel and Jews. When the man spoke, the police and several officers intervened, cut the transmission and temporarily switched off the power.

Lawyer: Police reacted completely disproportionately

Lawyer Nadija Samour said on behalf of the organizers that the police had made a completely disproportionate decision. Lesser measures were possible. Any attempt to protect the gathering was torpedoed by the police. There were no criminal statements, which the police also admitted.

The organizer was not aware of the ban on activities and had only been informed shortly beforehand. From the organizers’ point of view, the police action was illegal. An objection was lodged with the police so that the meeting, which was actually planned until Sunday, could continue.

Numerous people are protesting against the dissolution

On Saturday, numerous people demonstrated against the dissolution of the congress. Slogans could be heard such as “Viva, viva Palestine”, “Palestine will never die” or “Israel is bombing – Germany is financing”. Not far from the demonstration, a small group of people protested with Israel flags.

Around 900 police were deployed in the city, mostly during the demonstration. The Berlin police were able to rely on support from North Rhine-Westphalia, Hamburg and Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania.

Event dissolved after two hours

The police broke up the event on Friday around two hours after it began. According to a police spokeswoman, the authority saw the danger “that such anti-Semitic, violence-glorifying and Holocaust-denying speeches could be repeated at the event.” The decision therefore applied not only to Friday, but also to Saturday and Sunday.

Security circles said that, in coordination with the federal and state security authorities of Berlin, there had been entry bans against several prominent activists who wanted to take part in the congress.

Federal Interior Minister Nancy Faeser praised the police’s use of the platform X, formerly Twitter. “It is right and necessary for the Berlin police to crack down on the so-called Palestine Congress. We do not tolerate Islamist propaganda or hatred against Jews,” she wrote. A spokeswoman for the Interior Ministry pointed out that Faeser had already banned the terrorist organization Hamas and the Samidoun group in November 2023. “This means: Any activity is prohibited and a criminal offense, including propaganda speeches for Hamas. The security authorities are monitoring very closely that the bans are being adhered to. We are keeping a close eye on the Islamist scene.”

The police union called the officers’ crackdown a “strong signal towards those who exploit our democracy or doubt the assertiveness of the capital’s police.” “Anyone who wants to use our democratic opportunities must also adhere to requirements and laws,” said state leader Stephan Weh, according to the announcement.

International meeting under the motto “We accuse”

Various pro-Palestinian groups and initiatives invited people to the international meeting under the motto “We accuse”. These include, above all, those which, according to the assessment of security authorities and Berlin’s internal administration, belong to the anti-Israel “boycott spectrum”. The organizers had announced the congress a long time ago, but kept the exact location secret for a long time and only announced it on Friday.

Congress website