Berlin bans rappers from rally over ‘anti-Semitic’ lyrics

Berlin authorities barred a planned appearance Wednesday by two rappers during a pro-Palestinian rally at the Brandenburg Gate on the grounds of "anti-Semitic messages" in their lyrics.

Berlin bans rappers from rally over 'anti-Semitic' lyrics
People outside of Berlin's Brandenburg Gate on Wednesday evening. Photo: DPA

A spokesman for the German capital's office for internal affairs, Martin
Pallgen, told AFP that Shadi al-Bourini and Shadi al-Najjar would be banned
from performing at the landmark in the city centre.

He said that both Palestinian men had questioned Israel's right to exist in the past and expressed hatred of Jews, thus “crossing a line”.

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The decision followed widespread criticism by major media outlets, political officials and Israel's ambassador to Germany, Jeremy Issacharoff, of the earlier invitation for the pair to appear at Wednesday's event.

“You can't allow people who glorify terrorism to perform in front of the Brandenburg Gate,” the symbol of German unity, said Greens politician Volker Beck.

The American Jewish Committee, which has an office in Berlin, said Germany's commitment to atoning for the Holocaust and rejecting anti-Semitism required it to be particularly vigilant.

“It is unacceptable for calls for the murder of Jews to be made and the worst anti-Semitic stereotypes to be spread in this historic place” near the government quarter and the Holocaust memorial, it said in a statement.

The daily Bild reported that the rappers' songs included calls to bomb Tel Aviv and quoted them praising terrorists who killed Jews.

The rally was still due to be held Wednesday evening with about 400 participants and more than 100 police officers standing watch.

Pallgen said Arabic speakers would be among them to determine if there were
any calls to violence or racial hatred, both illegal under German law.

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Outrage in Germany after remains of neo-Nazi buried in empty Jewish grave

The burial of a known neo-Nazi's ashes in the former grave of a Jewish musical scholar has sparked outrage in Germany, and prompted Berlin's anti-Semitism official to file a criminal complaint.

Jewish scholar Max Friedlaender's grave stone in Stahnsdorf, just outside Berlin, on October 12th.
Jewish scholar Max Friedlaender's grave stone in Stahnsdorf, just outside Berlin, on October 12th. Photo: picture alliance/dpa/dpa-Zentralbild | Jens Kalaene

The remains of the neo-Nazi were buried at the grave of Max Friedlaender in Stahnsdorf, just outside Berlin, with several figures from the extreme-right scene in attendance at the funeral on Friday.

Samuel Salzborn, anti-Semitism official for Berlin, said late Tuesday that he had filed a criminal complaint because “the intention here is obvious – the right-wing extremists deliberately chose a Jewish grave to disturb the peace of the dead by burying a Holocaust denier there”.

He added that “it must now be quickly examined how quickly the Holocaust denier can be reburied in order to no longer disturb the dignified memory of Max Friedlaender”.

Friedlaender died in 1934 – when Adolf Hitler was already in power – and was buried in the graveyard as his religion was given as ‘Protestant’ in the burial registration slip

His grave was cleared upon expiration in 1980 and opened up for new burials, under common practice for plots after a certain amount of time has passed.

Friedlaender’s gravestone however remains standing as the entire cemetery is protected under monument conservative rules.


The Protestant Church managing the graveyard voiced dismay at the incident.

In a statement, it said it had accepted the request for burial at the empty grave because “everyone has a right for a final resting place”.

“Nevertheless, the choice of the former grave of Max Friedlaender is a mistake. We are looking into this mistake now,” the church said in a statement.

At the funeral, a black cloth was laid over Friedlaender’s tombstone while wreathes and ribbons bearing the Nazi-era iron cross symbol were laid on the grave for the neo-Nazi Henry Hafenmayer.

Prominent Holocaust denier Horst Mahler, who has been convicted for incitement, was among dozens at the funeral.

Police deployed at the funeral were able to arrest a fugitive from the far-right scene there, German media reported.

Several war graves stand at the cemetery at Stahnsdorf, and these sites are known in far-right circles, the Protestant church administrating the graveyard admitted.

It added that it has worked closely with police to hinder several neo-Nazi marches there in recent years.

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