Swiss Authorities Wrestle With Ban on Pro-Hamas Demonstrations

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The Swiss authorities are debating whether to ban pro-Hamas demonstrations after thousands of protesters took to the streets of Zurich and Geneva over the weekend to rally against Israel.

Around 2,000 people assembled in Geneva, brandishing Palestinian flags and calling for an end to the “genocide” which Israel is alleged to be carrying out in Gaza, while another 1,000 took to the streets of Zurich, chanting the slogan “From the River to the Sea, Palestine Will be Free” — widely interpreted as a call for Israel’s destruction as a sovereign Jewish state.

The Zurich demonstration took place despite appeals from Mario Fehr — the director of security for the Zurich canton — for a ban. More than 50 antisemitic incidents have been reported in Switzerland — which has a Jewish community of 20,000 — since the atrocities carried out by Hamas terrorists in southern Israel on Oct. 7.

A statement from the Zurich city government ahead of the demonstration noted that bans are implemented not on the basis of the political content of a demonstration, but on whether public safety can be guaranteed.

In an interview last Friday with the NZZ news outlet, Fehr described the rise of antisemitism in Switzerland over the last five weeks as “rampant” and “unbearable.”

“Jewish friends tell me about abuse and hostility. On house walls I read slogans like ‘Death to the Jews.’ We cannot allow that in a tolerant, peaceful country,” Fehr said.

Pro-Hamas demonstrations across Europe had demonstrated “that antisemitism is more widespread in certain cultures,” Fehr said. “Especially in parts of the Arab world, children learn from an early age to hate Jews and Israel. We have to be careful that we do not give room to this hatred.”

Fehr emphasized that he wanted to avoid the present situation in Germany, where Islamist organizations have staged angry demonstrations in support of Hamas, to be repeated in Switzerland.

“We also have anti-Israel demonstrations, which are increasingly being hijacked by extremists. They aim to wipe out Israel and all Jews,” he argued. “The danger that Islamists from Germany or other countries will now move to Switzerland and spread their hatred is real.”

Fehr said that he had advised the Zurich city authorities to prevent any further pro-Hamas demonstrations. “Such demonstrations can degenerate quickly and are difficult to control,” he said. “The municipalities responsible for demonstration approvals in the canton of Zurich should be aware of their responsibility.”

While demonstrations are still permitted in Geneva and Zurich, the city of Berne has said that such gatherings will not be permitted between Nov. 17 and Dec. 24, the eve of the Christmas holiday.

Source : Algeminer