February 20, 2024
BERLIN/PARIS: Internationally, the black-and-white keffiyeh head scarf has turn out to be an emblem of solidarity with the Palestinian trigger as battle rages between Israel and Hamas militants in Gaza. It has additionally turn out to be an issue for these sporting it.
Supporters of Israel see the chequered scarf as a provocation and an indication of backing for what they see as terrorism.
1000’s of individuals have worn keffiyehs in large protests in Britain and elsewhere in help of the Palestinians and calling for a cease-fire within the battle.
However activists say police in France and Germany — which have cracked down on pro-Palestinian protests — have cautioned, fined or detained folks sporting it.
Ramy Al-Asheq, a Palestinian Syrian poet who lives in Berlin, believes he has discovered a means round the issue. He had the size of his forearm tattooed with the sample of a keffiyeh.
“The keffiyeh was being criminalized and folks had been requested to take it off,” he stated. “I stated: ‘Okay, you may make me take it off however you must minimize my arm to take action.”
“I’m celebrating my anger and my criminalized tradition,” he advised Reuters as a tattooist put the ending touches on his work. “It’s additionally stunning and a reminder to always remember that so many individuals had been killed.”
But Germany’s Sueddeutsche Zeitung newspaper referred to as the keffiyeh the “drawback fabric” and advised German pro-Palestinian protesters put on a Nazi uniform as a substitute.
Israel supporters say it exhibits a disregard for the 1,200 Israelis killed within the cross-border raid by Hamas militants on Oct. 7 that triggered the Israeli assault on Gaza.
Palestinian supporters level to the greater than 18,000 folks killed within the offensive and Israel’s continued occupation of Palestinian territory.
Within the heated ambiance, this has additionally led to violence. In Vermont in america final month, three school college students of Palestinian descent — two sporting keffiyehs — had been shot, leaving one paralyzed.

SYMBOL OF REVOLT
The keffiyeh has lengthy been a logo of Palestinian nationalism, exemplified by the late PLO chief Yasser Arafat, who was not often photographed with out one. He folded it in a means that depicted the form of historic Palestine.
It first took on a political significance with the 1936-1939 revolt towards British rule, when rural guerrillas coated their faces with the material, design historian Anu Lingala advised Reuters. It confirmed “unified resistance,” she stated.
The black-and-white sample got here within the Nineteen Fifties, when British commander Common John Glubb assigned it to Palestinian troopers within the Arab Legion to tell apart them from the red-and-white of Jordanian troopers, US historian Ted Swedenburg wrote in his ebook “Reminiscences of Revolt.”
It was later adopted by Palestinian militants, like Laila Khaled, who hijacked an American TWA airliner in 1969. South African anti-apartheid chief Nelson Mandela, whose African Nationwide Congress was near the PLO, typically sported one.
Because the Palestinian flag was banned within the Israeli-occupied West Financial institution and Gaza between 1967 and 1993, the keffiyeh grew as a logo of the battle for a Palestinian state.
“What was used to cowl the identification of the anti-British colonialism rebels is now a logo to indicate this identification,” the poet Asheq stated.

SOUGHT-AFTER SCARF
For the reason that begin of the Israeli invasion of Gaza, on-line orders for the headband have soared on the web site of Hirbawi, the final keffiyeh manufacturing unit on Palestinian territory.
With a month-to-month capability of 5,000 keffiyehs, it’s going to take years to fill the backlog of 150,000 individuals who have expressed curiosity, Nael Alqassis, the corporate’s associate in Europe, advised Reuters.
Loai Hayatleh, a salesman at a Berlin oriental trinkets store, stated the Gaza battle had elevated demand by 200 p.c.
“We needed to get two air shipments from Syria,” stated Hayatleh, whose store had drawn police consideration as a result of Palestinian flag he hung above the store window.
Berlin and Paris police stated that sporting a keffiyeh was not unlawful until it coated the face. However the Berlin police stated they may limit or prohibit an outside gathering in the event that they believed public security was in speedy hazard, and this might contain banning keffiyehs.
Paris police declined to touch upon particular circumstances.
Ghassen Mzoughi was stopped by police when leaving a march in Paris in November and was advised to take away a purple keffiyeh that he had draped over his shoulders.
“They had been calm, however the message was clear – take away it or you aren’t leaving,” the 39-year-old pc programmer stated.
Police requested scientist Yosra Messai, 44, to take away her scarf whereas she was using the Paris metro. She refused, and was fined 30 euros for mounting an unauthorized protest.
“I used to be shocked and in tears. It’s a image – it’s the least we are able to do,” she stated.