Ghassan Abu Sittah on his election as Rector of University of Glasgow Ghassan Abu Sittah on his election as Rector of University of Glasgow. Photo: Doncho Atanassov

The British-Palestinian surgeon was detained at Berlin airport, and the Palestine Conference he was due to attend shut down by police, reports Doncho Atanassov

Less than 24 hours after giving his inaugural address as rector at the University of Glasgow, Dr Ghassan Abu Sittah was detained and deported at Berlin Airport en route to give a talk at the Palestine Congress.

The Congress was organised by MERA-25 and a coalition of Palestinian and anti-Zionist Jewish groups to discuss the Palestine movement and German complicity in the genocide. Since this morning (12 April) the congress has faced repression by the German state and smears by the German media, with police officers deployed to shut down the event from the morning. Several other speakers and attendees have also been denied the right to speak. The German police entered the venue, shut off the electricity and ultimately shut down the event.

Recently, the German Sparkasse bank closed the bank account of a German anti-Zionist Jewish organisation, while Nancy Fraser (a progressive, Jewish philosopher) was denied a visiting position at the University of Cologne due to her signing a pro-Palestine petition. The latter was referred to in Abu Sittah’s address.

In his address at Glasgow, Dr Abu Sittah made a reference to Rosa Luxembourg’s analysis of German society in 1915 as ‘violated, dishonoured, wading in blood … the ravening beast, the witches’ sabbath of anarchy, a plague to culture and humanity.’ In early January, the Namibian government said ‘The German Government is yet to fully atone for the genocide it committed on Namibian soil. Therefore, in light of Germany’s inability to draw lessons from its horrific history, President Hage G. Geingob expresses deep concern with the shocking decision communicated by the Government of [Germany]… in which it rejected the morally upright indictment …. that Israel is committing genocide against Palestinians in Gaza.’

Crucially, Nicaragua launched a complaint against Germany in the ICJ over its complicity in the genocide due to supplying around 30% of Israel’s weapons imports. Now, they are trying to shut down anyone acting against their support for genocide. The ruling classes can no longer hide their complicity, so they go after those that expose it.

Abu Sittah further commented on the three types of genocide enablers in his address:

‘The first are those whose racialisation and total othering of Palestinians has rendered them unable to feel anything for the 14,000 children who have been killed and for whom Palestinian children remain ungrievable. […]

The second group are those whom Hannah Arendt said in The Banality of Evil, ‘had no motives at all, except for extraordinary diligence in looking after his personal advancement.’

The third are the apathetic. As Arendt said, “evil thrives on apathy and cannot exist without it”.’

The German state, and all states that supress our right to speak and act out against the genocide, and that aid and abet the genocide, are thus the enablers and chief perpetrators of the barbarism unleashed on the world by the imperialist system.

What the events of the past few hours show is that state repression is following the pro-Palestine movement around the world – from the attempts to categorise this type of activism as ‘extremism’ by the UK government to the censorship of freedom of expression and assembly by the German government. The antidote to this rise in censorship and repression is a strong, unwavering, and mass anti-imperialist movement to stand up to the establishment.

We extend our solidarity to Dr Abu Sittah, the organisers of the Palestine Conference, and to our comrades in the Palestine movement in Germany.

Dr Ghassan Abu Sittah will be speaking at Counterfire’s Revolution! Palestine and the Crisis of Democracy event at SOAS University on Sunday 21 April from 12-5:30pm.
Book your ticket here.

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