News from Berlin and Germany, 25th October 2023

Weekly news round-up from Berlin and Germany



Thousands march in pro-Palestine demo from Kreuzberg to Neukölln

Thousands of people gathered for a pro-Palestine demonstration in Berlin on Saturday. The march began at Oranienplatz in Kreuzberg, and it quickly grew to several thousand participants. Around 6pm, the police declared the demonstration over at Hermannplatz in Neukölln. Many demonstrators were still there late in the evening.  In the meantime, the police had cordoned off Sonnenallee and Karl-Marx-Straße with water cannons, among other vehicles. Because of anti-Israeli statements glorifying violence, the police had stopped the demonstration and banned the loudspeaker van. According to the police, Arabic was used to shout that the whole world should burn. Source: rbb24

German chancellor condemns attack on Berlin synagogue

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz (SPD) strongly condemned a firebomb assault on a synagogue in Berlin last Wednesday. A couple of hours after the attack, when police were already investigating the incident, a 30-year-old man approached the synagogue on a scooter, which he threw aside, and began running toward the building. When police officers detained him, he resisted and shouted anti-Israeli slogans. Scholz, who was speaking to reporters during a trip to Egypt on the same day, said that Germany would not accept violent and antisemitic protests and that the protection of Jewish institutions would be further increased. Source: AP

Praying against general distrust

“Every Jew should be able to feel safe here,” says Imam Taha Sabri from his wooden pulpit, addressing his congregation. “Every Palestinian should be able to feel safe here.” And unequivocally he clarifies: “We condemn the attacks on Jewish institutions in Berlin” as well as “all attempts to disrupt peaceful coexistence in Berlin.” Several hundred men of different origins and ages crowded the Dar Assalam Mosque to listen to Sabri offer Friday prayers. The Imam came to Berlin from Tunisia in 2005, and since the Hamas attacks on October 7, he has been trying to pacify the situation in Neukölln. Source: taz

More than 10,000 people show solidarity with Israel

More than 10,000 people gathered to show their solidarity with Israel at the Brandenburg Gate in Berlin on Sunday, according to the police. The organisers even speak of 25,000 participants. At the beginning of the event, Federal President Frank-Walter Steinmeier (SPD) called on all citizens to protect Jewish life in Germany. The last speaker to take the stage was Berlin’s Mayor Kai Wegner (CDU). Israel’s right to exist and defend itself is non-negotiable, he stressed in his speech. Almost all parties and religious communities as well as trade unions and employers’ associations took part in the demonstration initiated by the German-Israeli Society. Source: rbb24


Housing crisis hits university students in Germany

As the temperatures drop and students head to universities for the start of the winter semester, tens of thousands of undergrads and postgrads alike find themselves without long-term housing and little to no prospect of a bed in student dorms or a reasonably priced flatshare. Earlier this year, a study by the Eduard Pestel Research Institute found a shortage of more than 700,000 apartments in Germany, especially in the affordable range. To help ease the situation, Germany’s coalition government announced a federal subsidy of €500 million in 2023 as part of the youth housing scheme “Junges Wohnen.” Source: dw

Wagenknecht and Co. resign

Sahra Wagenknecht and nine other MPs have resigned from the Left Party. For the time being, they still want to remain members of the party fraction in the Bundestag. Wagenknecht said that one of her core concerns was to widen the range of opinions in Germany. Among her followers there is Amira Mohamed Ali, the former leader of the Left Party in the Bundestag. The new party will emerge from the already-founded association BSW (Bündnis Sahra Wagenknecht). The official founding of the party is planned for January, said Lukas Schön, managing director of the BSW association. Source: taz

Payment cards for refugees

“This is money from German social security funds, the money should stay here,” said Dietmar Woidke (SPD) at the Minister Presidents’ Conference in Frankfurt am Main. Brandenburg’s Minister President advocates the introduction of a card that would allow refugees without their own bank accounts to make cashless payments. According to Woidke’s plan, this would be done under the watchful eye of the social welfare office. It is still unclear to what extent it will be possible to withdraw money with the chip card. In the case of the “social card” planned in Hanover, neither restrictions nor transfer checks are planned. Source: nd-aktuell

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