The mainstream media has been circulating that Germany’s Interior, Justice, and Foreign Ministries had agreed “to move towards outlawing Iran-backed Hezbollah,” according to Der Spiegel magazine, which also reported that the decision is to be announced next week at the meeting of the German interior ministers.
Claim: Germany is set to ban Hezbollah in its entirety from the country, not just their military wing but also political, media, etc.
Verdict: Steve Alter, a spokesman of the German Interior Ministry, has just refuted the allegation carried by media reports, denying “that an outright ban of Hezbollah by Germany was on the cards.” He went on clarifying afterward on Twitter that a possible ban on Hezbollah’s activities in Germany “cannot be confirmed.”
Europe has generally taken a moderate approach towards Hezbollah’s presence in the continent. Most European Union states, including Germany, consider that only the military arm of Hezbollah is a terrorist group.
The French government, for example, has only banned the military, arguing that “distinguishing between its political and military arms helps foster dialogue with Hezbollah and, ultimately, prompt it to alter its policies,” according to Germany DW News.
From her side, Germany’s chancellor Merkel stated a while back that Hezbollah is a legitimate part of Lebanon’s government, and “recognizing it is necessary for political engagement with the Middle Eastern country.”
In Europe, only the UK and the Netherlands have classified the entire group as a terrorist organization; all while the United States pressures the European Union to ban the whole group, not just its military arm.
As per the German security services, Hezbollah’s operatives in Germany are estimated at 1,500 members, raising funds and recruiting in the federal republic, and with about 30 mosques and cultural centers tied to the party. Worth mentioning that the German Shiias originate mostly from Iran, and they constitute only 7% of the German Muslims which, in turn, constitute the largest minority.
According to Merkel, Iran is an ally that she refuses to consider as a “pariah” regarding that Iran is the largest trading partner in Europe at $3.2 Billion, as of September 2019.
Listing Hezbollah as a terrorist organization could compromise that trade relationship, due to its “connection” to Iran.
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