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Berlin blocks appearance of convicted Palestinian terrorist Rasmea Odeh

Berlin has banned Palestinian Rasmea Odeh — a woman convicted for an act of terrorism in 1970 — from engaging in political activities in Germany over fears of causing incitement against Israel.

Odeh had been due to speak at an event at a cultural community center in the Berlin district of Kreuzberg.

Read more: Is Israel interfering in German cultural policy?

“Freedom of expression is a great good. If, however, the state of Israel and Jews are to be ruthlessly persecuted, the red line has been crossed,” said Andreas Geisel, the interior minister for the state of Berlin, on Friday.

Odeh was sentenced to life in prison for a bomb attack in Jerusalem that left two people dead, and was released during a prisoner exchange in 1980. She is considered a sharp critic of Israel and has called for a boycott of the country.

  • City of Strife - Jerusalem Photo Gallery (Imago/Leemage)

    City of strife: Jerusalem’s complex history

    Jerusalem, the city of David

    According to the Old Testament, David, king of the two partial kingdoms of Judah and Israel, won Jerusalem from the Jebusites around 1000 BC. He moved his seat of government to Jerusalem, making it the capital and religious center of his kingdom. The Bible says David’s son Solomon built the first temple for Yahweh, the God of Israel. Jerusalem became the center of Judaism.

  • City of Strife: A history of Jerusalem in pictures (picture-alliance/Mary Evans Picture Library)

    City of strife: Jerusalem’s complex history

    Under Persian rule

    The Neo-Babylonian King Nebuchadnezzar II (3rd from the left) conquered Jerusalem in 597 and again in 586 BC, as the Bible says. He took King Jehoiakim (5th from the right) and the Jewish upper class into captivity, sent them to Babylon and destroyed the temple. After Persian king Cyrus the Great seized Babylon, he allowed the exiled Jews to return home to Jerusalem and to rebuild their temple.

  • City of Strife: A history of Jerusalem in pictures (Historical Picture Archive/COR)

    City of strife: Jerusalem’s complex history

    Under Roman and Byzantine rule

    The Roman Empire ruled Jerusalem from the year 63 AD. Resistance movements rapidly formed among the population, so that in 66 AD, the First Jewish–Roman War broke out. The war ended 4 years later, with a Roman victory and another destruction of the temple in Jerusalem. The Romans and Byzantines ruled Palestine for approximately 600 years.

  • City of Strife: A history of Jerusalem in pictures (Selva/Leemage)

    City of strife: Jerusalem’s complex history

    Conquest by the Arabs

    Over the course of the Islamic conquest of Greater Syria, Muslim armies also reached Palestine. By order of the Caliph Umar (in the picture), Jerusalem was besieged and captured in the year 637 AD. In the following era of Muslim rule, various, mutually hostile and religiously divided rulers presided over the city. Jerusalem was often besieged and changed hands several times.

  • City of Strife: A history of Jerusalem in pictures (picture-alliance/akg-images)

    City of strife: Jerusalem’s complex history

    The Crusades

    From 1070 AD onward, the Muslim Seljuk rulers increasingly threatened the Christian world. Pope Urban II called for the First Crusade, which took Jerusalem in 1099 AD. Over a period of 200 years a total of nine crusades set out to conquer the city as it changed hands between Muslim and Christian rule. In 1244 AD the crusaders finally lost control of the city and it once again became Muslim.

  • City of Strife: A history of Jerusalem in pictures (Gemeinfrei)

    City of strife: Jerusalem’s complex history

    The Ottomans and the British

    After the conquest of Egypt and Arabia by the Ottomans, Jerusalem became the seat of an Ottoman administrative district in 1535 AD. In its first decades of Ottoman rule, the city saw a clear revival. With a British victory over Ottoman troops in 1917 AD, Palestine fell under British rule. Jerusalem went to the British without a fight.

  • City of Strife: A history of Jerusalem in pictures (Gemeinfrei)

    City of strife: Jerusalem’s complex history

    The divided city

    After World War II, the British gave up their Palestinian Mandate. The UN voted for a division of the country in order to create a home for the survivors of the Holocaust. Some Arab states then went to war against Israel and conquered part of Jerusalem. Until 1967, the city was divided into an Israeli west and a Jordanian east.

  • Soldiers during Six-day war (picture alliance/AP/KEYSTONE/Government Press Office)

    City of strife: Jerusalem’s complex history

    East Jerusalem goes back to Israel

    In 1967, Israel waged the Six-Day War against Egypt, Jordan and Syria. Israel took control of the Sinai, the Gaza Strip, the West Bank, the Golan Heights and East Jerusalem. Israeli paratroopers gained access to the Old City and stood at the Wailing Wall for the first time since 1949. East Jerusalem is not officially annexed, but rather integrated into the administration.

  • City of Strife: A history of Jerusalem in pictures (Getty Images/AFP/A. Gharabli)

    City of strife: Jerusalem’s complex history

    Muslim pilgrimage to Israel

    Israel has not denied Muslims access to its holy places. The Temple Mount is under an autonomous Muslim administration; Muslims can enter, visit the Dome of the Rock and the adjacent Al-Aqsa mosque and pray there.

  • Old City in Jerusalem (picture-alliance/dpa/R. Jensen)

    City of strife: Jerusalem’s complex history

    Unresolved status

    Jerusalem remains to this day an obstacle to peace between Israel and Palestine. In 1980, Israel declared the whole city its “eternal and indivisible capital.” After Jordan gave up its claim to the West Bank and East Jerusalem in 1988, the state of Palestine was proclaimed. Palestine also declares, in theory, Jerusalem as its capital.

    Author: Ines Eisele


Schengen visa revoked

Berlin’s Interior Ministry invoked the Residence Act to ban Odeh’s appearance. According to the law, the political activity of a foreigner can be restricted if it endangers the peaceful coexistence of different groups or public security.

The German newspaper Tagesspiegel reported that the Kreuzberg cultural community center had already cancelled Odeh’s appearance, though some were concerned that she may appear outside the event.

Odeh also had her Schengen visa revoked, meaning she will now have to leave Germany.

Read more: Europe’s Schengen Area: What you need to know

Criticism from Israel, US

Israel had previously criticized Odeh’s planned appearance at the center.

Israeli Public Security Minister  Gilad Erdan said it was unacceptable that “terrorists who pretend to be human rights activists abuse freedom of expression for terror and sedition.”

Read more: Are Benjamin Netanyahu’s days numbered as Israeli PM?

Earlier, US Ambassador Richard Grenell also spoke out against Odeh’s planned appearance. “Giving a Palestinian terrorist convicted of murder and terrorism … a public platform legitimizes anti-Semitism at a time when we should be condemning it,” he told daily newspaper Bild.

“It is unsupportable that a Palestinian terrorist should be celebrated as a freedom fighter here in Berlin for her murderous fight against Israel and the Jews,” said Lala Süsskind of the Jewish Forum for Democracy and Anti-Semitism.

Berlin Mayor Michael Müller welcomed the decision of Berlin’s Interior Ministry.

“Anti-Israeli and anti-Semitic resentments, wrapped up in liberation rhetoric, have no business here. I am glad that we have found a way to stop this propaganda,” he said.

  • A Palestinian protester hurls stones toward Israeli police during clashes as Palestinians call for a day of rage in response to US President Donald Trump’s decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, near the Jewish settlement of Beit Al, near the West Bank city of Ramallah. (Reuters/M. Torokman)

    Muslims worldwide respond to Palestinian call for protests

    Clashes with police

    A Palestinian protester hurls stones toward Israeli police during clashes near the Jewish settlement of Beit Al, close to the West Bank city of Ramallah. Palestinians called for a “day of rage” in response to US President Donald Trump’s decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital. At least two protesters were killed on Friday during clashes with security forces.

  • Palestinian protesters shout slogans in front of the Dome of the Rock mosque at the al-Aqsa mosque compound in Jerusalem’s Old City. Hundreds of additional police were deployed to control the masses of protestors after Palestinian calls for protests following the Friday prayers. (Getty Images/AFP/A. Gharabli)

    Muslims worldwide respond to Palestinian call for protests

    Protests following prayers

    Jerusalem itself has seen some of the largest protests, as here in front of the Dome of the Rock Islamic shrine at the al-Aqsa mosque compound in the Old City. Hundreds of additional police were deployed to control the masses of protesters after Palestinian calls for protests after Friday prayers.

  • Iraq protests (Reuters/E. al-Sudani)

    Muslims worldwide respond to Palestinian call for protests

    Protests reach Iraq

    And those calls for protest have received a response from Shiite Muslims in Iraq. These men have taken to the streets in the southern city of Basra. Palestinians are angry because they want East Jerusalem as the capital of their future state; Trump’s move, supported by Israel, could thwart that desire.

  • Muslim men burn Israeli and US flags during a protest in Budgam, southwest of Srinagar, in Indian-controlled Kashmir. Protesters marched in several places in Srinagar and other parts of the region after Friday prayers chanting slogans such as Down with America and Down with Israel. (picture alliance/dpa/AP Photo/D. Yasin)

    Muslims worldwide respond to Palestinian call for protests

    Israeli and US flags burned

    Indian-controlled Kashmir also saw protests, with Muslim men seen here burning Israeli and US flags during a rally in Budgam, southwest of Srinagar. Protesters marched in several places in Srinagar and other parts of the region after Friday prayers, chanting slogans such as “Down with America” and “Down with Israel.”

  • More than 1,000 Malaysian Muslims protested outside the US Embassy in Kuala Lumpur against US President Donald Trump’s decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israel's capital. The protesters, led by Sports Minister Khairy Jamaluddin, marched from a nearby mosque after Friday prayers to the US Embassy, halting traffic as they chanted Long live Islam.” (Reuters)

    Muslims worldwide respond to Palestinian call for protests

    ‘Long live Islam’

    In Malaysia, more than 1,000 Muslims protested outside the US Embassy in Kuala Lumpur against Trump’s decision. The protesters, led by Sports Minister Khairy Jamaluddin, marched from a nearby mosque after Friday prayers to the US Embassy, halting traffic as they chanted “Long live Islam.”

  •  Turkish women protesting (Reuters/O. Orsal)

    Muslims worldwide respond to Palestinian call for protests

    Turkey: Protesters voice their indignation

    These Turkish women are venting their anger in support of the Palestinian cause. But Trump’s decision to move the US Embassy to Jerusalem has been condemned by many governments of non-Muslim countries as well.

  • Protesters in Egypt burn a picture of US President Donald Trump with his face crossed out during a protest in front of the Syndicate of Journalists in Cairo. The picture reads, Journalists are telling you Trump, Jerusalem is Arab. Hundreds of protesters also gathered in Al-Azhar mosque and outside in its courtyard. (Reuters/M. A. E. Ghany)

    Muslims worldwide respond to Palestinian call for protests

    Trump’s picture burned

    Protesters in Egypt burn a picture of US President Donald Trump with his face crossed during a protest in front of the Syndicate of Journalists in Cairo. The picture reads, “Journalists are telling you Trump, Jerusalem is Arab.” Hundreds of protesters also gathered in Al-Azhar mosque and outside in its courtyard.

  • Protestors wear Palestine banners in Jakarta. In Indonesia, the world's most populous Muslim nation, more than 300 protesters shouted Go to hell Israel! and called on Trump to stop blind support for the Jewish state. (Reuters/Beawiharta)

    Muslims worldwide respond to Palestinian call for protests

    ‘Stop your blind support’!

    In Jakarta, Indonesia, protesters in the world’s most populous Muslim nation wear Palestine headbands. More than 300 protesters shouted “Go to hell Israel!” and called on Trump to stop his “blind support” for the Jewish state.

  • Protests in Tehran (picture-alliance/AA/Stringer)

    Muslims worldwide respond to Palestinian call for protests

    Massive marches in Iran

    The streets of the Iranian capital, Tehran, have also been the scene of huge protests at the US decision. As an arch-enemy of Israel, the Iranian government is likely to view the US move as particularly offensive.

  • Protests in Berlin as well (Getty Images/S. Gallup)

    Muslims worldwide respond to Palestinian call for protests

    Muslims in Germany join the outrage

    Germany has also seen protests, with mostly Muslim demonstrators attending a rally at Berlin’s Brandenburg Gate while waving Palestinian and Turkish flags. The German government has been among those to warn urgently against Trump’s move.

    Author: Timothy Jones


law/cmk (dpa, Stadt Berlin)

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