Attack on ex-Muslim at demonstration against anti-Semitism in Flensburg, Germany

In view of the renewed escalation of violence in the Middle East, several demonstrations took place across Germany last Saturday. The Palestinian Association Flensburg also protested in the presence of a large police contingent. According to media reports, around 150 people took part in the pro-Palestinian rally on Flensburg’s Willy-Brandt-Platz square.

Not far from the rally, about 25 people gathered at the same time for a counterdemonstration to make a statement against anti-Semitism and to show solidarity with Israel. The rally was announced by the blogger and activist Amed Sherwan, an ex-Muslim who had to flee northern Iraq in 2014 because of his critical stance towards religion.

In a speech, Sherwan explained his reasons for organising the event: “I am standing here because I know anti-Semitism. For a long time, it was a natural part of my world view. However, through his confrontation with the Holocaust and encounters with Israel-solidarity groups, he gained a new perspective on the Middle East conflict in Germany: “I don’t know the solution, but I know that Islamism is part of the problem. Because the images of the enemy that I grew up with are deliberately spread all over the world by Muslim Brotherhood groups. And other Islamist groups also portray Israel as the root of all evil.” Enemy images, Sherwan explained, are never a solution to problems – no matter by whom they are fomented.

As the demonstration continued, an incident occurred in which Amed Sherwan was physically assaulted: A 23-year-old man, who was allegedly taking part in the pro-Palestinian rally, tried to snatch an Israeli flag from Sherwan. During the assault, both fell to the ground, whereupon police officers intervened. Shortly afterwards, Sherwan, who was also initially detained by the officers, was allegedly called a “fucking Jew” by the perpetrator.

According to the police, the assailant was taken into custody and released after his personal details had been established. Sherwan suffered minor injuries as a result of the fall and filed a complaint against the perpetrator.

On the same day, Sherwan published a video statement on his Facebook page in which he describes the incident in detail. He also criticised the municipality of Flensburg for continuing to treat the Palestinian Association as if it were a “normal cultural association”. The public statements of the association, on the other hand, clearly show that its members hold Islamist and anti-Semitic positions.

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