The Czech Republic might penalise ‘From the River to the Sea, Palestine will be free’ slogan

The Czech authorities are considering grading the words „From the River to the Sea, Palestine will be free” as a criminal offence in certain circumstances.

In mid-November, the Czech Interior Ministry, police officers, prosecutors and the Prague city representatives discussed measures to fight antisemitism during public gatherings, reports the Euractiv.

The discussion concluded that the use of the slogan „From the River to the Sea Palestine will be free” is problematic in the context of the Hamas attack against Israel on 7 October 2023 and could be considered a criminal offence.

According to the ministry, anyone using such a slogan could potentially be guilty of supporting and promoting terrorism, inciting hatred against a group of people, or denying, questioning, condoning or justifying genocide.

The Interior Ministry explained that „The link to the Hamas movement and other organisations calling for the destruction of the State of Israel is unambiguous”, adding that „the slogan has historically been used by the majority in conjunction with a clearly stated demand for the destruction of the existence of the State of Israel and the elimination of part of the population by any means, including violent means.”

Whether the slogan is antisemitic or not is widely debated. In October, a Dutch court gave legal protection to the phrase on the grounds of free speech. Nevertheless, in Czechia, the police will inform demonstration organisers of the newly forming decision of the authorities to penalise the use of the slogan.


Photo credit: Manuel Cortina/NurPhoto via AP