In English: Islamic Society of Germany
Orientation: Islamist, Muslim Brotherhood
Fields of operation: anti-Israel petitions
The Islamische Gemeinschaft in Deutschland e.V. (IGD) was founded in 1958. The German domestic intelligence agency has long described it as the central organization of the Muslim Brotherhood in Germany,37 adding that it coordinates the activities of more than 50 mosques in the country. IGD is also a founding member of the Federation of Islamic Organizations in Europe (FIOE),38 the European umbrella of Muslim Brotherhood national affiliates. Its Facebook page shares posts by FIOE quite frequently. In February 2017, Gordian Meyer-Plath, president of the regional department of the German domestic security and anti-terrorist organization, claimed the Muslim Brotherhood, which “has long been active in Saxony, although they were stealthy,” and wants a “monopoly” on mosques in Saxony. Meyer-Plath said that the Muslim Brotherhood poses a threat to Western democratic systems.39
The IGD issues condemnations to Israel at times of operations in Gaza. For example, in July 2014, during Operation Protective Edge, the IGD’s website reportedly denounced the “barbaric action of the Israeli army in Gaza”.40
In English: Palestinian Society of Germany
In Arabic: Al-Tajamu Al-Filastini fi Almania
Orientation: Islamist, Muslim Brotherhood
Fields of operation: pro-Hamas advocacy
According to its website, the Palästinensische Gemeinschaft in Deutschland (PGD) is an “independent Palestinian entity, which is nonpartisan, nonprofit, and altruistic,”41 that was founded in 2008 and is based in Berlin. The website further explains,”The founding of the association can be traced back to the sixtieth anniversary of ‘Nakba’ = ‘catastrophe,’ the expulsion of the Palestinians from their land in 1948, and the association sees itself complementary and co-operative to the already existing associations and organizations in Germany.” PGD’s stated purposes include the promotion of German-Palestinian relations, the promotion of active solidarity with the Palestinians, and establishing their own independent Palestinian state on Palestinian soil.42
The PGD is probably the most active pro-Palestinian/pro-Hamas body among the Muslim Brotherhood-affiliated bodies in Germany. It works with other European affiliates of the Muslim Brotherhood, most notably the London-based Palestinian Return Centre (PRC), and is also a member of the European Campaign to End the Siege on Gaza (ECESG), a coalition of over 30 NGOs, most of which are affiliated with the Muslim Brotherhood.43 The PGD’s annual conference in February 2017 hosted notable figures affiliated with the Muslim Brotherhood in Europe, like Majed al-Zeer from the PRC and Amin Abu Rashid from the Netherlands.44 In July 2017, the PGD played a key role in organizing demonstrations in Germany “in support” of Al-Aqsa.45
The PGD has hosted various Palestinian figures in the last few years. It signed, as part of a group of 100 NGOs, including other ECESG coalition organizations, a petition calling on the United Nations to endorse and implement the UN Fact Finding Mission Report on the Gaza Conflict (“The Goldstone Report”).46
In May 2015, new elections were held for the posts of chairman and vice-chairman of the PGD (Majed al-Zeer attended the process as head of the Palestinians in Europe Conference). Suhail Abu Shammala was elected as head of PGD, and Fadi al-Tayesh as his deputy.47 In 2008, when launched, Suhail Abu Shammala was in charge of the PR Committee of the Forum of Palestinian Doctors in Europe (PalMed) (see below).48 Khaled al-Zaher represents the PGD in Berlin.49
In May 2016, a memorandum was handed over by the Palestinian Assembly in Germany to German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier urging the German government to work on breaking the Israeli siege on Gaza. The letter was handed to the German Foreign Ministry delegate at the ministry headquarters in Berlin. In a press conference, Suhail Abu Shammala called on the German government to “urgently intervene and work on halting Israel’s oppressive policy toward the besieged enclave of Gaza.” He slammed the silence maintained by the international community as regards the “siege crime,” saying: “This is an intolerable crime that transgresses all human ethics.” Fadi al-Tayesh appealed to the mass media to speak up for Gaza’s tragedy, adding that “preparations for the Global Week to Break the Siege on Gaza have been under way.”50
In English: Palestinian Community in Berlin
The story of the Palästinensische Gemeinde Berlin (PGB) reflects the process of change that has taken place within the ranks of pro-Palestinian activism in Europe. The Palestinians in Germany have reportedly been divided on an organizational key.51 The PGB was founded in 1996 in order to build bridges between the Palestinians and their environment, as well as to promote interaction and constructive dialogue with other communities and cultures. The idea was to develop sharing and to get to know each other and create understanding and friendship between the Palestinians and the Germans.52 The PGB has a long history of involvement with anti-Israeli demonstrations, events, and other activities. These activities clustered around major events in the Middle East, such as the 2006 Second Lebanon War or the operations in Gaza,53 and were, for the most part, carried out in conjunction with other German, Arab, and Left-wing organizations.
A column published in June 2008 argued there were ongoing disputes around PGB’s bi-annual conference. According to the writer, a new managing committee is elected in these conferences from among those who attend them. Prior to the conference, talks were held between affiliates of the PFLP, DFLP, Fatah, and independent candidates. The writer claimed that a closed list of PLO-affiliated candidates was agreed on, leaving 25 percent to independent candidates. However the then-head of the PGB Ahmed Muhaisen (who was affiliated with Fatah) did not show up and also urged others to boycott the conference.54 In November that year, it was reportedly decided to hold new elections, because the council failed to do any activities.55 Complaints were raised over these elections with claims that the PFLP partnered with Fatah to take control over the PGB by banning hundreds from voting.56
At around the same time as these elections, the PGB also started getting involved in initiatives connected to the Islamist side. The PGB was listed as part of the Islamist-led ECESG coalition,57 which mainly comprised of Muslim Brotherhood affiliates. Muhaisen was among the signatories on a joint German-Israeli-Palestinian letter that condemned the “terrible crime” on board the Mavi Marmara,58 and also criticized the German authorities for considering green flags raised in a January 2009 demonstration in support of Gaza as Hamas flags.59 In March 2010, Khaled al-Zaher, then a PGB senior, urged all German-based organizations to participate in the Palestinians in Europe Conference that was to take place the following month, stating that anyone who believes that this conference is relevant for the followers of Hamas or those “painted in green” is mistaken.60 In an apparent attempt to re-unite the followers of the various Palestinian factions in Germany, a new conference was called for in May 2010.61 However, perhaps due to these ongoing disputes, a new body called AlJaliah – Palästinensische Gemeinde Berlin EV was also registered In January 2011.62 PGB no longer seems to be active.
In Arabic: Tajamu’ Al-Atiba
Orientation: Islamist, Muslim Brotherhood
Fields of operation: medical care, professional umbrella, pro-Hamas advocacy
According to the PalMed Europe magazine, the organization originated after meetings in May 2007 between Palestinian medical doctors living in Germany, where its European headquarters is located.63 PalMed has been working closely with the Islamist charity Islamic Relief,64 and its leaders are frequent speakers at the annual Palestinians in Europe Conference. PalMed Europe lists branches in the United Kingdom, France, Germany, Sweden, Spain, Denmark, Italy, and Norway, and also operates an office in Gaza.
PalMed is probably the most significant example of a European Muslim Brotherhood-affiliated umbrella outfit structured as a professional syndicate. It has sent delegations of doctors and medical equipment to Gaza and the West Bank, and in recent years also to refugee camps in Syria, Lebanon, and Jordan.
PalMed Germany has been very active during military operations in Gaza, both in the medical and political fields. During Operation Cast Lead, for example, it collected donations for medical supplies and teams sent to Gaza65 and accompanied Norman Paech on a tour of Gaza.66 Paech is the former foreign policy spokesperson for the Die Linke Party, and served in the Bundestag between 2005 and 2009. PalMed was also close to the far-left Norwegian activist Dr. Mads Gilbert, who used to travel to Gaza for many years,67 and whose entry to Israel had been banned in November 2014.68 PalMed Germany was also listed as one of the supporting organizations of Willkommen in Palästina (Welcome to Palestine),69 the July 2011 attempt to fly anti-Israel activists into Tel Aviv Airport, later known as the “flytilla.”
Various PalMed Europe reports identify Dr. Mohamed Salem, a French citizen of Palestinian origin,70 as the chairman of the organization.71 Salem was also an organizer at the French CBSP,72 which funded a PalMed delegation to the West Bank in December 2014.73