Pro-Palestinian protesters heckle Scholz at book fair

Pro-Palestinian protesters heckle Scholz at book fair
Pro-Palestinian protesters heckle Scholz at book fair

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Nevin Al Sukari - Sana'a - Pro-Palestinian protesters heckled and interrupted German Chancellor Olaf Scholz yesterday as he tried to give a speech at the opening of the Leipzig Book Fair. — AFP pic

BERLIN, March 21 — Pro-Palestinian protesters heckled and interrupted German Chancellor Olaf Scholz yesterday as he tried to give a speech at the opening of the Leipzig Book Fair.

Several loud cries could be heard as Scholz began his speech at Germany’s second-largest book fair after Frankfurt.

The Leipziger Volkszeitung newspaper said the protesters appeared to be pro-Palestinian activists and one person could be heard calling, “It’s not a humanitarian disaster, it’s a genocide”.

Scholz stopped his speech to address the protesters, telling them: “Stop shouting, that’s enough.”

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“The power of the word brings us all together here in Leipzig, not the power of shouting,” he added, to loud applause.

A man could later be heard calling on the audience to protest against arms deliveries to Israel.

Pro-Palestinian protests have proliferated in Germany and Europe since the Hamas October 7 attack sparked the Israel-Hamas conflict.

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The October 7 attack resulted in about 1,160 deaths in Israel, mostly civilians, according to an AFP tally of official figures.

Hamas also seized about 250 hostages, with Israel estimating some 130 remain in Gaza, including 33 who are presumed dead.

Israel’s military has since waged a relentless offensive against Hamas that has killed at least 31,900 people in Gaza, most of them women and children, according to the Hamas-ruled territory’s health ministry.

The outbreak of the war in Gaza has roiled Germany, where Berlin’s staunch backing for Israel has prompted protests that pro-Palestinian voices were being marginalised.

The group “Strike Germany” has called on creative workers to boycott cultural institutions in the country, with a petition gathering hundreds of signatures, among them Nobel-winning author Annie Ernaux.

At the awards ceremony of the Berlinale film festival in February, several winners were accused of making anti-Semitic remarks on stage in relation to Israel’s military assault.

In his opening speech, Scholz stressed the value of literature in helping readers to understand different perspectives.

“With every chapter, with every new page, we can overcome differences that sometimes seem irreconcilable in everyday life,” he said. — AFP

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