In a groundbreaking decision, Prague’s Municipal Court on Monday overturned a ban on a pro-Palestinian demonstration that was initially scheduled for 5th December. The city’s administration had earlier prohibited the event, arguing that it was centered around the anti-Israel slogan, “From the River to the Sea, Palestine will be free.” The court, however, ruled that the slogan could have multiple interpretations.
The demonstration was planned to take place outside the Ministry of the Interior. The organizers stated that the purpose of the gathering was to support the slogan above “in its original non-violent form.” The Ministry of Interior had previously noted that using this slogan could be considered criminal. In justification for the ban, the city administration said that the slogan indicated the destruction of Israel.
However, the court rejected this interpretation. According to the presiding judge, Štěpán Výborný, it cannot be said that the slogan carries an unambiguously violent or even genocidal message, as stated by the Prague City Hall. The court also took into account the context of the planned gathering. It noted that the city administration failed to prove any ties between the convener and any radical or terrorist groups.
The court added that the demonstration was planned to take place in a location where there was no immediate threat to the sentiments of the Jewish community. The presiding judge added that “even previous pro-Palestinian gatherings in Prague did not indicate the use of this slogan in its extremist meaning.”
This decision from the court represents a significant moment for freedom of expression and assembly in Prague, underscoring the importance of context and nuance in interpreting slogans and messages.