May 01, 2020
Germany bans Hezbollah - a likely precedent for the EU
The German government formally banned Hezbollah as a political organisation yesterday. The German media suppressed the story, while foreign newspapers showed much greater interest. We assume this must be the consequences of the German media’s self-censorship in reporting criminal activities by foreigners on German soil.
The decision followed a raid on four mosques and community centres that apparently served as the hub of Hezbollah’s network in Europe. Hezbollah’s paramilitary wing is already banned in the EU, but Germany has now become the second EU country, after the Netherlands, to ban the political organisation as well. A display of Hezbollah’s symbol, a clenched fist and a machine gun, now carries a prison sentence of up to one year. The concrete implications of the ban are that the German authorities will now have the means to ban the Shia Muslim organisation’s political activities and seize financial assets. The German interior ministry stated Hezbollah’s declared intent to eliminate Israel as the reason for the ban. The move was preceded by a non-binding vote in the Bundestag in December, but it was not clear then whether or when the government would implement the ban.
The timing is believed to relate to the planned al-Quds day demonstration in Berlin, scheduled for May 16. This is an annual anti-Israel demonstration, organised among others by Hezbollah activists. It is not clear at this stage whether the mayor of Berlin will allow the demonstration to go ahead.