Civil rights don’t apply to Palestinians living in Europe

After being blocked from entering Paris, Ghassan Abu Sitta addressed a conference by video link. (Via Twitter)

France gives the Légion d’honneur to people whose conduct is considered exemplary.

Ghassan Abu Sitta should be eligible for such an award. He saved many lives by working as a surgeon in Gaza during the early stages of the current genocide.

Rather than being handed a Légion d’honneur, Abu Sitta was informed that there is an exclusion order against him when he flew into Paris on Saturday. As a result, he could only address the event to which he had been invited by video link.

The order was actually issued by Germany, which banned Abu Sitta from its territory last month and shut down the Berlin conference at which he was scheduled to speak.

Apparently, the German ban now applies to the entire European Union or at least the Schengen area – nominally a zone of “free movement.”

Abu Sitta has British citizenship and has been elected rector of Glasgow University in Scotland. Yet I don’t recall the government in London protesting about how one of its citizens was denied his basic rights by Germany, another European country with which it enjoys cordial relations (regardless of Brexit).

Nor were there any statements issued from Downing Street, when Abu Sitta was denied entry to France.

Crackdowns on the rights of Palestinians living in Europe are either approved or applauded from on high.

In Belgium, the activist Mohammed Khatib has been threatened by the government for the simple reason that he speaks out in defense of Palestinian rights.

Nicole de Moor, the Belgian minister for asylum and migration, has publicly called for Khatib’s refugee status to be withdrawn, alleging that he is a “hate preacher.”

Unlike de Moor, I know Khatib personally.

Far from preaching hate, he preaches freedom, justice and equality. He is eloquent and erudite.

Khatib is European coordinator with Samidoun, a group that the pro-Israel lobby wants to see outlawed.

The right to free speech is enshrined in the Belgian constitution – as Alexander De Croo, the country’s prime minister, emphasized recently. If De Croo is genuinely a defender of free speech, then he must insist that Palestinians are allowed to exercise that right.


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