The move to ban the Hamas flag is a response to reports of violence and anti-Semitism during protests in Germany, an official said.

The lower house of the German Bundestag has passed a law banning symbols of groups designated as terrorist organizations by the European Union, including the Palestinian movement Hamas.

The new law passed on Friday, which has yet to be approved by the upper house of the Bundesrat, also bans symbols of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), which is listed as a “terrorist” group by Turkey and its Western allies.

Previously, only symbols of organizations banned by Germany had been banned.

The move comes after several pro-Palestinian rallies in Germany during the escalation of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict in May, in which there were instances of violence and anti-Semitism.

Thorsten Frei, a Christian Democratic Union MP led by Chancellor Angela Merkel, told Die Welt newspaper last week that the government wanted to ban the Hamas flag in response to the protests.

“We do not want the flags of terrorist organizations to be waved on German soil,” he said, adding that a ban would send “a clear signal to our Jewish citizens.”

Germany saw several protests during 11 days of fighting between Israel and Hamas in May, with protesters shouting anti-Semitic slogans, burning Israeli flags and damaging the entrance to a synagogue with stones.

During a demonstration in Berlin, 59 people were arrested and dozens of police injured as protesters threw stones, bottles and fireworks.

The Central Council of Jews in Germany said it had received “a torrent of the most vile anti-Semitic slurs” on social media.

Council President Josef Schuster urged the police to take a hard line against anti-Semitism and said the events “brought to mind the darkest moments in German history”.

Home Secretary Horst Seehofer said Germany would crack down harshly on anyone who spreads “anti-Semitic hatred”.

“We will not tolerate Israeli flags burning on German soil and attacking Jewish institutions,” he told the Bild am Sonntag newspaper.





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