The journalist Khaled Barakat was forbidden to take part in an event in Berlin with the topic, “Palestine and the Arabs – American Deal of the Century from Compromise to Liquidation” under threat of imprisonment by decision of the Foreigners’ Office on 21.06.2019. He was also barred from participating in any other events with reference to the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP).
Khaled Barakat is a Canadian citizen who has been in Germany for 4 years. The refusal to extend his residence permit after 31.07.2019 was also announced in the document.
In the detailed but not very substantial statement of reasons of the German Foreigners’ Office it is alleged, among other things, that Mr. Barakat is a functionary of the PFLP. The PFLP is on the EU terror list, as it is in Israel and in the USA. In Germany it is not classified as a terrorist organization. In Great Britain it has not been listed since 2014. Neither the Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution nor Berlin’s report mentions the PFLP. There is no evidence that Khlaled Barakat is an official of the PFLP, which he denies by the way.
The Foreigners’ Authority bases the prohibition of lectures on § 47 para. 1 sentence no. 1 AufenthG. Through his lectures, the Foreigners Authority alleges that the peaceful co-existence of Germans and foreigners or of different foreign groups in Germany is imperiled. It refers to the unproven assessment of the Berlin Anti-Semitism Research and Information Centre (RIAS) that anti-Semitic propaganda had been carried out at the event “STOP APARTHEID – Decolonise Palestine.” RIAS here regards the depiction of Palestinians throwing stones on a poster as a visual element “glorifying violence.” Therefore, the statement alleges peaceful coexistence between non-Jewish and Jewish citizens in Germany may be impaired. There is no evidence of this presented either. After his multiple past lectures, there were never any such conflicts. The reason for any conflict is rather the “smouldering political conflicts between Jews and Arabs/Palestinians”, as the Foreigners’ Office itself declares.
However, the Foreigners’ Office wrongly equates Jews with the Israeli government. Numerous prominent Jews in Israel, Germany and other countries are rather very critical of the policies of the the Israeli government. The Foreigners’ Office also justifies its decision by reference to a threat to public safety and order. They also mention forbidden meetings of other organizations. However, Mr. Barakat never gave lectures at any forbidden gatherings. Listing of the PFLP as a terrorist organisation in the USA, Israel and the EU is alleged to be sufficient for the Foreigners’ Office to claim that public safety and order, and Germany’s good relations with the state of Israel, are at risk due to his lectures.
This decision of the Foreigners’ Office intervenes massively against the fundamental rights of Khaled Barakat. The justified and necessary fight against anti-Semitism is not facilitated by such decisions, but in fact made more difficult. Equating criticism of the Israeli government with anti-Semitism distracts from the danger of real anti-Semitism.
The prohibition means that his rights under Art. 5, 8 of the German constitution, Art. 10 of the European Convention on Human Rights, Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and Article 19 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) are injured. The core of freedom of expression consists precisely in being critical of the policy of one’s own government and to the policies of other governments. Freedom of expression and freedom of the press are fundamental for a democratic community.
The ELDH, the VDJ and the International League for Human Rights call on the Berlin authorities to cease these unlawful practices without delay and also to annul their decision on the extension of Mr. Barakat’s residence permit on the basis of speculation and defamation.
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