The following interview, with Samidoun Germany coordinator Zaid Abdulnasser, was first published on the Klasse gegen Klasse website (in German). To get involved with the campaign, endorse the organizational statement or share the main statement here.
Zaid fled Syria to Germany. He is now threatened with having his residence permit revoked because of his activism. We interviewed him about it.
You fled to Germany and the state plans to revoke your residence permit and deportation is on the table, with an explicitly political motivation. Can you tell us more about your situation?
I was born in Syria as a refugee. I am the son, grandson and great-grandchild of Palestinian refugees who are denied the right to return to their homeland, Palestine. This applies to half of the Palestinian people, who live in exile. However, my status as a refugee in Germany was recognized solely on the basis that I am a Palestinian from Syria, a country at war.
We have seen the rapid development of the Palestinian movement in Europe and Germany in recent years, especially after 2015 and the war in Syria. At the same time, state repression against any attempt to organize newly arrived Palestinian refugees intensified. So, the attack on our movement and on me must be classified as part of this wave of repression.
I received a letter from the Federal Office for Migration and Refugees:
“Due to a communication from the State of Berlin, according to which you are an activist of Samidoun and Masar Badil… a withdrawal procedure has been initiated regarding the protection you were granted by the Federal Office… the Federal Office has weighed the public interest in the withdrawal against the individual’s private interests.”
In other words, the state is planning to revoke my residence permit and is challenging my refugee status because of my political participation. Our lawyers have pointed out to me that deportation as a Palestinian from Syria is currently not possible under German, European and international law. But the reality is: We don’t know how the process will develop further. We know what the law says, but this case is not about the law or justice. The precarious situation of Palestinian refugees is being exploited to oppress them.
In the last two years, demonstrations in Berlin on Nakba Day have been banned, and in general the level of repression against Palestinian activism appears to be increasing. What is behind this escalation?
What the state is doing here is not directed against me personally, but against all Palestinian refugees in Germany who are organizing for Palestine and against the current social and political conditions in Europe. My case is not the first nor the last. For example, the German state is currently trying to deport two Palestinians because of their participation in a Palestinian conference in Sweden, which also had its primary political goal of organizing the newly arrived Palestinians in Europe. Another example is a case where a Palestinian refugee, who was preparing an application for German citizenship, was asked in a letter about his opinion on several political issues, including his opinions of Arab normalization with the Zionist state, his own assessment of the political relationship between the Zionist state and Germany, and his attitudes toward the Palestinian resistance.
These are just the cases we know of. Obviously, these practices are systematic and not isolated cases. These are the things that constantly happen behind the scenes while the demonstration bans and smear campaigns play out in the public eye. Some refugees, particularly those who are more marginalized or live in precarious circumstances, feel unable to talk about these experiences because doing so would expose them to even more dangerous circumstances. And all this is happening to protect Zionist interests in Germany against the growing mass movement.
The revocation of your residence permit is justified by the “protection of the public interest”? What kind of interest do you think lies behind it?
When the state talks about the “public interest” at a time when people living in Germany are increasingly suffering under the weight of the constant economic crises, then the state means the interests of the state itself.
In the EU, Germany is the Zionist occupation’s largest economic partner, routinely takes part in military maneuvers with the terrorist occupying army, signed billions of dollars in arms deals that also included missile systems and nuclear submarines, and is fully involved in the Nakba of the Palestinian people by supporting the occupation at international and national levels in Germany.
This unconditional support for the occupation of Palestine is clearly based on common imperialist interests and the understanding that this European colony in Palestine is the West’s military base in the Middle East. Of course, this is being promoted as Germany’s attempt to atone for the massacre of Jews in World War II. If anything, using the sins of its Nazi history to justify supporting yet another ethnostate project shows that it has never truly learned from its history.
An organized mass Palestinian, Arab and internationalist movement will not allow these lies to continue to dominate public discourse, and the Palestinian refugees have the inner strength to pose a real challenge to the Zionist movement in Germany and shared German and Israeli interests. Since Germany is the stronghold of the Zionist movement in Europe, any success of the Palestinian struggle here will have a major impact on the entire movement. This is the true meaning of organizing the Palestinian masses in Germany, namely that they can shake the foundations of the state’s imperialist interests to their very foundations.
How can people support you and the fight against this attack?
As part of the campaign, we are calling for actions between September 20 and 30 in support, including organizing events or taking part in our events. We will publish these on our social media (@samidoun_deutschland) over the next few days. Also share the campaign’s statement on your pages, and if you would like to support financially against this lawsuit and other similar lawsuits, you could donate to the following account:
Name: Rote Hilfe e.V.
IBAN: DE55 4306 0967 4007 2383 17
Note: Palaestina gegen Repression