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The New Arab

Germany denies plans to impose total ban on Hezbollah

Hezbollah supporters waving a flag as they witness Hassan Nasrallah deliver a TV address

Date of publication: 28 November, 2019

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Interior ministry spokesperson refutes reports that his country plans to ban the Lebanese militant group Hezbollah.
Berlin denied on Thursday that it plans an outright ban of Hezbollah, following earlier reports that Germany was working towards outlawing the Iran-backed Lebanese militant group.

Interior ministry spokesperson Steve Alter refuted reports of a "ban on activities" of Hezbollah, adding that these "cannot be confirmed" in a tweet late on Thursday.

Der Spiegel magazine had reported earlier on Thursday that a formal ban on all Hezbollah-related activities will be announced in a conference next week.

The magazine said the decision was taken jointly by the foreign, interior and justice ministries.

According to the report, the ban would include flag waving, which occurs when the group partakes in pro-Iranian and anti-Israeli demonstrations, such as the annual al-Quds day held in Berlin.

In June, the AfD (far right Alternative for Germany party) had tabled a motion to consider a ban on Hezbollah's activities in Germany, and for the government to no longer distinguish between the group's political and military wings, calling it a unified "terrorist organisation".

While the resolution was rejected, in September Richard Grenell, US ambassador to Germany, reignited the discussion in Berlin.

In an article published in conservative-leaning Die Welt, he called on Germany to ban the movement.

Hezbollah, according to him, had remained Iran's most violent representatives for the past 37 years and were staunch supporters of antisemitism.

The ambassador's views echoed those expressed by his government in May.

In a state visit, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, affirmed his government efforts to pressure Germany into following Britain in recognising "Hezbollah as a unified entity and banning it".

In response, German Minister of State Niels Annen defended his country's decision not to  follow Britian's lead.

Germany saw Hezbollah as a legitimate part of Lebanon's government and that relations with the group were necessary "for political engagement with the Middle Eastern country".

Hezbollah has 950 active supporters in Germany, according the AfD draft res, citing government figures.

The militant group has not carried out terror attacks of Germany, but according to AFD, mere "potential" necessitates "preventative measures".

Germany's domestic intelligence agency currently estimates that Hezbollah has around 1,050 followers in Germany.

Shia mosque communities are frequently accused of recruiting for Hezbollah.

The annual Report on the Protection of the Constitution says there are, for instance, around 30 Hezbollah followers at the Islamic Center Hamburg.

Germany has important backchannel dealings with the group and has helped mediate prisoner deals in the past.

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