City apologises for Zionist flag flap

Pro-Israeli group feels its freedom of expression was threatened when it was told not to hang flag at multi-cultural event

November 3rd, 2012 9:22 am| by admin
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Deputy mayor Anna Mee Allerslev (Radikale) has publically apologised to Danske Zionistforbund (DZF) after the organisation was barred from flying an Israeli flag at a Copenhagen multi-cultural event.

“I apologise for the way things were handled. It’s obviously a problem that needs to be taken seriously. I’ve also had a serious discussion over the matter with the man who was in charge at the time of the incident,” Allerslev said in an open letter to the DZF.

The incident began in September, when the event, which was held in the Nørrebro district, an area with sizeable Muslim community, was being organised. At that time, concerned that it would provoke Muslims participating in the festival, sought to discourage DZF from participating.

Linda Herzberg, a member of the Jewish organisation Mosiaske Troessamfund told Berlingske newspaper that a city official had tried to recruit her to help convince DZF to withdraw.

“A meeting was held, after which I was asked to use my influence to persuade the DZF to not take part in the festivities,” Herzberg told Berlingske.

Instead, Herzberg did the opposite and informed the DZF of the city's intentions. The city then told the organisation that if it attended, it could not fly an Israeli flag.

Calling the incident “unfortunate”, Allerslev said she regretted what had happened, but pointed out that the festival was held without any run-ins.

“But I’m still very disappointed that the incident occurred under my watch,” she said in her open letter.

Allerslev and the DZF have since tried to put an end to the dispute. In a letter written together with Max Meyer, the DZF president, and published in Berlingkse on Sunday, she the two said the controversy had been somewhat misinterpreted by the media, and needed to be clarified.

In the letter, the DZF said it had, in fact, been satisfied with the way the situation had been managed, and both agreed that the city had the best intentions. They acknowledged, however, that security concerns should have been managed by the police, rather than event organisers.

They also underscored that DZF had every right to take part in the event.

“We in Copenhagen need to feel like we can take part in events together, rather than segregated groups,” Allerslev wrote. “Cultural and religious differences need to be respected, and it is only through respect that we can learn to live together.”

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