Anti-Semitism: No!; Right of assembly: Yes!

As the war in the Middle East has flared up, there have been large demonstrations focussing on this issue. The images from Essen, in which pro-Palestinian demonstrators chanted anti-Semitic slogans and openly displayed flags of the terrorist Islamic State and the radical Islamist Taliban, are certainly still fresh in everyone's mind. We Liberal Democrats in our home state of North Rhine-Westphalia deeply condemn these events.

Following these events and further demonstrations by pro-Palestinian protesters, political voices from the CDU and AfD could be heard calling for the Assembly Act to be restricted to German citizens only in order to counteract such scenes. After all, this is what the constitution says and should be implemented by the state of NRW.

We Liberal Democrats NRW firmly oppose this view. We see the right of assembly as an extension of freedom of opinion. Without genuine freedom of assembly, there is no genuine freedom of opinion. The right of assembly is one of the core fundamental rights of a democratic state. The ability to form an opinion among many people, rather than just one person, is a highly valued right. This right must be safeguarded and protected against influence and instrumentalisation by populists and extremists.

It is true that the German constitution only speaks of “Germans” who are allowed to assemble freely — but to look only at the freedom of assembly itself is too simplistic and does not do justice to the matter. The freedom of assembly of people without a German passport is also protected separately. The Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union and the general freedom of action from the Grundgesetz all have one thing in common - they protect the free and peaceful assembly of all people. No matter what passport or background the person has.

We Liberal Democrats recognise and respect international law and the Grundgesetz. We oppose any curtailment of the right of assembly in NRW. We are in favour of a liberal right to express one's opinion through assemblies. We want the Assembly Act to be fit for purpose and to be interpreted accordingly. It should protect the right of assembly from abuse by violence and extremism and not become the plaything of populist politicians. It is intended to prevent scenes like the one in Essen, which inevitably restricts the right of assembly in line with the constitution. A circumstance that should and must be accepted for the protection of all. However, such an immense restriction of the right of assembly does not protect the general public, but attacks it at its core.

We Liberal Democrats are of the opinion that such a legal move is unlawful, undemocratic and unconstitutional. This is what we stand for. Against anti-Semitism - against unconstitutional curtailment of fundamental democratic rights. For freedom of expression and against stigmatisation. For the protection of Jews, minorities and victims of war. And especially for the protection of the constitution and international law and the freedoms they guarantee for everyone.

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Julian Oster
Julian Oster

Julian is a law student. He joined the Liberal Democrats at the age of 18. For him, freedom is not possible without equal opportunities.