Al Jazeera Net correspondents
Munich- Muslims, Jews and Christians were expected to pray together in a city Munich At the beginning of this week, in a message to bring peace to the Middle East, especially between Palestinians and Israelis, but this event in support of peace as well was canceled at the last minute under pressure from parties supportive of Israeli policies.
The event was supposed to be held in Marienplatz square in central Munich, and the city’s Muslim Council called for it, but its mayor, Dieter Ritter, announced its cancellation, saying that “the time has not yet come to organize this prayer in the city,” even though he was its sponsor in Initially, this caused great dissatisfaction among the ranks of the Muslim Council, which described the cancellation decision as “bitter.”
The mayor justified the cancellation decision by the withdrawal of a representative of the Jewish religion from the event, which makes the possibility of holding it impossible, but other parties confirm that the reason is pressure on the city municipality to cancel, as the withdrawal came due to the dissatisfaction of some representatives of the Jewish religion with the Muslims participating in the event, while the mayor confirmed Muslim organizations said that the withdrawal of representatives of the Jews, as well as the Protestants, was for reasons related to the timing of prayer, and not a rejection of the invitation.
The Jewish representative did not explain the reason for not attending, but the Bavarian Public Radio (BR) website indicated that the reason was the criticism directed at the organizers, which prompted the representatives of the Jews and Protestants to withdraw, while the Protestant Bishop Christian Kopp stated that without the participation of a representative of the Jews, the Jews would not participate. Prayer is possible, but he promised to intensify the dialogue in order to make this prayer possible at a later time.
Compress and tighten
Pressure against joint prayer came from some organizations, the most important of which is the “Left Alliance Against Anti-Semitism,” which is a gathering of young people from center-left parties and organizations that support Israel.
This coalition launched a campaign of criticism against prayer, and justified this by the presence of “anti-Zionist organizations” within the Muslim Council that have relations with the “Brotherhood” organization. Its criticism reached the point of “questioning the seriousness of the Council’s calls for peace.” This coalition greatly celebrated the cancellation decision, considering that it had achieved its goal. As he claimed, it is not possible to “achieve peace with the Islamists.”
In order to put more pressure on the municipality to cancel the event, this coalition linked the event to Saeed Ramadan, who is one of the historical cadres of the Muslim Brotherhood, given that he is the founder of the Islamic Center in Munich (IZM), one of the institutions represented in the city’s Muslim Council, and the coalition spoke about the Muslim Brotherhood’s relationship with the Hamas movement. .
Also among the pressurers was the head of the Israeli-German Association, Volker Beck, who belongs to the Green Party and is one of the most supportive German figures for Israel, who stated that “this prayer is an event that will only serve to protect the Hamas movement and Islamic positions.” Volker later welcomed the decision to cancel.
However, despite this, both Volker Beck and the aforementioned Left Alliance criticized the municipality’s decision not to mention the real reasons behind the cancellation, and to hide behind the cancellation of the representative of the “Jewish component” from his participation, as they were demanding that the municipality clearly state that it has reservations about the participation of the Muslim Council.
The newspaper “Süddeutsche Zeitung” reported that some associations linked to the Muslim Council in Munich are under the surveillance of German internal intelligence, including the “German Islamic Gathering” (DMG), an association whose membership had been dropped by the Supreme Council of Muslims in Germany, with the justification of its “subordination to the Brotherhood.” But the Munich Council itself is not subject to any official monitoring or accusations of extremism.
— The Pied Piper (@Rattenfangernet) October 13, 2023
“We are for peace”
Among the criticisms raised by opponents of joint prayer against the participating Islamic institutions was what the imam of the Islamic Center Mosque in Munich wrote on his Facebook page, when he celebrated the Hamas attack. However, the Center published a statement in which it confirmed that it had immediately suspended the imam until the accusations against him were investigated.
The center said that “hatred and violence should not be transmitted to Jews and Muslims in Germany,” noting that it believes in “coexistence,” so it called on Jews, Christians, and all people of all beliefs to visit the mosque.
Insistence on protest
Despite the cancellation of the demonstration, dozens of Munich residents attended the collective prayer, and Imam Benjamin Idris told the newspaper “Süddeutsche Zeitung” that the organizers came in order to inform visitors who do not use social media that the event was cancelled, but they were surprised that many people attended, 90% of whom were Christians. They insisted on group prayer.
It was expected that the prayer would be without flags, banners, or slogans, and it came in the context of great pressure on the Islamic councils in Germany, which are now being demanded to take official German positions, otherwise they are affiliated with the Islamists and encourage “terrorism.”
Like most German municipalities, the municipality of Munich declared solidarity with Israel, and the colors of the Cathedral of Our Lady in the center of the city were lit up with the colors of the Israeli flag, while demonstrations in support of Palestine and rejecting the war on Gaza were previously banned, under the pretext of “celebrating terrorist attacks.”
The police intervened violently to disperse a number of demonstrators, even though the organizers of these demonstrations were parties known for their peaceful work, and there were Israelis from the left among their ranks. However, under intense pressure and the growing protest movement following the rise in the number of martyrs in Gaza, the Munich authorities allowed a number of these demonstrations, under several conditions. .