Demonstrators in Pakistan disrupt German ambassador’s speech

ISLAMABAD — Germany’s ambassador to Pakistan faced backlash on social media Saturday for asking pro-Palestinian demonstrators to leave a human rights conference instead of “shouting” and interrupting his speech.

Alfred Grannas was speaking on civil rights at the live-streamed event in the eastern city of Lahore when a young man rose from his seat and spoke to the German diplomat.

“Excuse me, Mr. ambassador. I am shocked by the audacity that you are here to talk about civil rights while your country is brutally abusing the people speaking for the rights of the Palestinians,” the protester said.

The participants cheered and chanted “Free, Free Palestine” and “From the river to the sea” in response to the comments, with many of them rising from their seats in support of the man.

“If you want to shout, go out; there, you can shout because shouting is not a discussion,” the German ambassador shouted back furiously in response to the questioning voice.

“If you want to discuss it, come here. We’ll discuss it, but don’t shout. Shouting is not a behavior. Shame on you,” Grannas said.

Organizers forced the protesters out of the conference to let the German diplomat complete his speech.

Grannas’ video remarks quickly went viral, drawing criticism from Pakistanis, including activists, politicians and journalists.

“The German ambassador shouting into the mic about shouting,” said Uzair Younus, a former nonresident senior fellow at the Atlantic Council’s South Asia Center.

“Not a great look for German diplomacy. These types of interruptions will be the norm, not the exception for Western countries’ representatives in the global south moving forward as they lecture folks about human rights,” Younus wrote on X, formerly Twitter.

“Mr. ambassador, can you tell someone to ‘get out’ for expressing their opinion freely in your own country?” Ghulam Abbas Shah, a Pakistani broadcast journalist, asked on X.

“German ambassador to Pakistan lecturing Pakistanis about free speech while German government bans any discussion on Gaza. Students who spoke up during this speech were dragged and beaten up. Shame!” Ammar Ali Jan, a Pakistani historian, activist, and politician, said on X.

Some social media influencers urged the German diplomat to apologize to Pakistanis for his reaction.

“This isn’t the way a diplomatic relation is built with the masses of host country @GermanyinPAK,” said journalist Sumaira Khan on X. “We are shocked to see your level of respect toward Pakistan and Pakistanis. … You should apologize to our people I believe,” she wrote.

Germany has firmly supported Israel since the Jewish state declared war on Gaza-based Hamas after the Iran-backed Palestinian militant group attacked southern Israel on October 7, killing 1,200 people and leading to the capture of scores of hostages.

Israel’s counteroffensive has killed nearly 34,000 people in Gaza, two-thirds of them women and children, Gaza health officials say. Israel says the death toll includes thousands of Hamas fighters.

The German government has not budged even as warnings of a genocide allegedly committed by Israeli forces have mounted.

Pakistan does not recognize Israel and has no direct channels of communication with it over the issue of Palestinian statehood.

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