'A few years ago German police dragged me across the bare gravel, my face pushed into the cold ground.
It was fall 2015. Benjamin Netanyahu, Israel’s prime minister, had declared that Haj Amin al-Husseini, a Palestinian political and religious leader, talked Adolf Hitler into exterminating the Jews.
A group of us protested against this disgraceful and dishonest claim outside the Chancellery in Berlin. We held placards reading “Netanyahu is a Holocaust denier.”
That evening I was hospitalized due to my violent arrest.
A Palestinian from Gaza and I had been asked by the police for our identity documents immediately after the demonstration ended. Although we fully cooperated, the police resorted to brutality.
I screamed as police officers dragged me along the ground. One officer placed her feet on me. Another officer twisted my arms; it felt like he was trying to break my fingers.
Next, I was thrown into a van. A police officer mocked me in front of his colleagues. He told me – using a sexist tone – that I was a great actress and should star in movies.
An investigation soon ensued. I was accused of defaming a foreign head of government and disobeying a police officer.
Each of these charges was punishable by three years in prison.
With a sword of Damocles above my head, I had to withdraw from political activity in case it would put my doctoral studies at risk.
The charges were dropped after a few months. Yet I remained silent for most of the next two years.
Climate of intolerance
After completing my studies, I decided to resume activism. I did so against the backdrop of German politics becoming more extreme.
The most notable manifestation of this trend is how the far-right Alternative for Germany – known by its acronym AfD – has become the third largest party in the federal assembly, the Bundestag.
Amid this climate of intolerance, dissenters – and particularly those who criticize Israel – are subjected to smears and even criminalized. I learned this for myself during June 2017, when I took part in a protest at Berlin’s Humboldt University.'
Read more: Germany denies free speech on Israel’s crimes
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