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Banning pro-Palestine demos, allowing Quran burnings shows Western hypocrisy

By Shabbir Rizvi

For almost three weeks now, the values Western society claims to champion have been on trial. Since the launch of the Hamas-led operation Al-Aqsa Storm (also known as Al-Aqsa Flood) on October 7, the world has seen the so-called values of Europe and North America put to the test. 

The very countries that feverishly defend abstract ideas such as “freedom of speech” and “freedom of the press” have now, under pressure from the Zionist lobby as well as US foreign policy hawks, contracted their support for these sacred (allegedly to them) values. 

It is said that “Palestine is the litmus test” for where any person, institution, or state stands on the side of justice. If this is the case, then let us examine the orientation of Western states towards Palestine.

Take the case of Germany, which has in recent weeks moved hysterically to ban Pro-Palestine demonstrations altogether, smearing them as “anti-Semitic” gatherings.

The Western European country, which has enshrined the right to assemble in its Constitution since the mid-20th century, has violently cracked down on Palestinian activists and even banned the pro-Palestinian group Samidoun, which does advocacy work for Palestinian prisoners.

In other egregious moves, Berlin’s education officials are considering banning students from wearing the Palestinian keffiyeh or even sporting "free Palestine" stickers.

Take the case of France, which is notorious for its discriminatory policies against Muslims. French Interior Minister, Gerald Darmanin, has declared an outright ban on all Palestine-related protests.

“Pro-Palestinian demonstrations must be prohibited because they are likely to generate disturbances to the public order,” the minister said last week, warning of arrests.

In addition, those standing in solidarity with the Palestinian cause by wearing a keffiyeh (for example) are also reportedly being stopped, questioned, and fined.

Again, they attribute it to antisemitism. Pertinently, this is the same country that has imposed a Hijab ban and routinely mocks Islamic figures and sanctities in newspapers and cartoons.

Now take the case of the United Kingdom, where the Rishi Sunak government has come out openly in support of the Israeli regime’s genocidal campaign in the besieged Gaza Strip.

While not as heavy-handed on demonstrators as France and Germany, the UK Home Secretary Suella Braverman insisted that waving the Palestinian flag could amount to inciting racism or violence.

In a letter to police, she said “behaviors that are legitimate in some circumstances, for example, the waving of a Palestinian flag, may not be legitimate such as when intended to glorify acts of terrorism." 

At the same time, Prime Minister Sunak demanded all state buildings should display the Israeli flag. 

This notion perfectly captures the essence of the hypocritical situation within the West.

There is a direct contradiction between the so-called primary values of the West, i.e. “Freedom of Speech,” and its imperialist and outright racist objectives.

Freedom of speech, media, and assembly is only allowed as long as it does not interfere with the unified state and lobbyist directives of supporting, for example, the Israeli genocide of Palestinians.


Recall that just less than six months ago, European countries like the Netherlands, Sweden and Denmark allowed for the desecration of the Holy Quran.

Despite unified condemnation from the Muslim world and attempts to stop it by correctly categorizing it as racist and Islamophobic, the countries allowed the desecration to continue time and time again.

When citizens within these countries would intervene to stop it, they were the ones arrested - instead of the desecrators themselves.

The Quran is the holy text for all Muslims. Nothing surpasses it. So burning it is of course inciting hatred and violence towards Muslims, especially in regions where Islamophobic hate crimes are on the rise. 

However, there were no official calls to condemn it. The EU politicians turned a blind eye and shrugged, giving barely any substantial condemnation and instead invoking “free expression” and “free demonstration.”

It took a unified effort from some majority-Muslim countries for the desecration to be picked up by major media. The United Nations Human Rights Council had to pass a resolution to condemn it in July. 

The hypocrisy is laid bare. Insulting two billion Muslims is protected under Western values and states. Insulting the West’s colonial political project by the very whisper of the word “Palestine” is enough for some officials to smear you as an antisemite.

It’s blatant suppression, and it’s not even categorically correct: by definition, Zionism, the political ideology of the Israeli colonial project, is not Judaism.

If values are consistent, then Western society can’t have it both ways. If the American and European states can crack down on false equivalencies of antisemitism, then they must prosecute those who actually desecrate the Quran instead of protecting them.

But even here, the argument is forced into an incorrect box. Because the Palestinian cause itself is a human cause. Over a million Gazans face ethnic cleansing and genocide. Voicing support for their plight cannot be condemned because it isn’t a religious issue. It is a social and political one. 

So while the Quran desecration is very much a real hate crime as it targets an entire religion, a call for solidarity with Palestine cannot categorically be one, as it calls for justice against a political entity. 

And here lies the truth of it all. The mechanisms of the West are therefore only for the enforcement of its own political goals at the cost of the very humanity of others. 

Despite the threats of suppression and state crackdown, the Palestinian cause has still remained strong. In France, Germany, and the UK, protests and rallies continue, though they are heavily policed and under heavy state surveillance. 

With each passing day, the call for justice in Palestine grows, even in the West, as the Zionist narrative crumbles. Truth cannot be made illegal, only barbarism can. 

The immediate future will see more suppression of Palestinian solidarity. At the same time, rampant Islamophobia will rise, as it always does when Western media and officials begin to condemn Palestinians for their legal right to resist. 

However, millions marching in the streets for a free Palestine will ultimately be the ones writing history.

The hypocritical contradictions of the West and its apparatuses are causing crisis after crisis, and will undoubtedly be its undoing. 

Shabbir Rizvi is a Chicago-based political analyst with a focus on US internal security and foreign policy.

(The views expressed in this article do not necessarily reflect those of Press TV)

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