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Row over Berlin Islam conference intensifies

Published on September 14, 2004

14 September 2004

BERLIN – Controversy over a planned Islamic conference in Berlin – billed by organisers as being aimed at “American and Zionist Nazism” – intensified Tuesday with opposition conservatives demanding the government ban the meeting.

The “First Arab, Islamic Congress in Europe”, due take place 1 to 3 October in the German capital, threatens to escalate into a political crisis with the normally hardline Federal Interior Minister Otto Schily so far declining to take action against the meeting.

A spokesman for Schily said any ban was up to the city state of Berlin and that federal agents were keeping a close watch on the event.

But Berlin city officials would only say “no comment” to demands the meeting be cancelled.

This drew an angry reply from Wolfgang Bosbach, deputy head of the opposition Christian Democratic alliance (CDU/CSU) in the federal parliament.

“We must use all available means to prevent this congress,” said Bosbach in a Hanover Allgemeine newspaper interview.

Also demanding the meeting to be banned is the Simon Wiesenthal Centre, an international Jewish human rights group.

An Islamic meeting where Israelis are compared with Nazis is about the last thing German leaders want taking place in the city from which Adolf Hitler presided over the Holocaust from 1933 to 1945.

Nevertheless, congress organisers declare in their manifesto that people invited to take part are those wanting “to make an intensive contribution … to the world’s resistance movement against the American and Zionist Nazism.”

Israel is not directly named in the six-page set of principles for the meeting, but organisers go on to say: “(The) Zionist entity is performing a global war of expulsion and of scattering and of physical liqidation of people.”

Goals supported by the meeting include:

-“The liberation of all occupied territories and countries in (the) struggle against American-Zionist hegemony and occupation.”

-Formation of Arab and Islamic “liberation movement.”

-Forging united Arab Islmamic communities in European states in order to “save our culture, tradition and religion.”

Those who want to take part in the meeting are informed they must accept key principles to be eligible for admission.

Among these are viewing the Iraqi resistance movement as “the true representative of the Iraqi people.”

While the programme does not explicitly support use of violence in Iraq, organisers say the Iraqi resistance “has the legitimacy to use all legitimate means to oppose the conquering and occupying American forces and their lackey collaborating ‘governmental council’ that does not represent the will of the Iraqi people.”

A further principle on which the congress insists is refusal to recognise the “occupation or violation” of any part of the country of Palestine as well as Iraq, Syria or Lebanon.

“The Palestinian and Iraqi resistance … are performing a legitimate, holy and principal duty,” concludes the congress programme.

The entire conference agenda can be viewed at: http://www.anamoqawem.org/berlincall.htm


Subject: German news