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German ambassador’s speech interrupted by pro-Palestine protester in Lahore

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During the 5th Asma Jahangir Conference in Lahore, Germany’s Ambassador to Pakistan, Alfred Grannas, faced an unexpected disruption. As he began his speech on civil rights, a pro-Palestine protester boldly interrupted, chanting slogans that resonated with the crowd. The protesters expressed shock at the audacity of discussing civil rights while Germany allegedly brutalized those advocating for Palestinian rights.

The room erupted with applause and fervent chants of “Free, Free Palestine” and “From the River to the Sea.” Grannas, maintaining composure, acknowledged the protester’s comments. He curtly responded, “If you want to shout, go out; there, you can shout. Because shouting is not a discussion.”

The incident prompted the event’s live stream to mute Grannas’ remarks and temporarily turn off the feed. Meanwhile, the Progressive Students Collective (PSC) accused the German ambassador of hypocrisy. They questioned Germany’s role in the Gaza conflict and criticized the conference organizers for stifling student voices while providing a platform for those associated with Palestinian genocide.

In a surprising show of solidarity, academic Nida Kirmani supported the PSC’s stance. She asserted that a human rights conference should not host a representative from a country allegedly enabling genocide. According to her, the German ambassador should have been removed.

Grannas, undeterred, resumed his speech, emphasizing that the “protection of human dignity” constitutes the cornerstone of fundamental human rights. He drew parallels between Germany and Pakistan, highlighting Article 14 of Pakistan’s Constitution, which explicitly guarantees the inviolability of human dignity.

Discussing the judiciary’s role, Grannas emphasized that while the Constitution provides rights, the courts interpret, safeguard, and further develop them. He stressed the judiciary’s duty to prevent the rule of law from being replaced by the rule of mere legislation. Practical implementation, not just theoretical protection, is crucial.

Grannas commended Pakistan’s courts for their progressive interpretations. For instance, they abolished the “infamous two-finger testing” in rape cases. He underscored that these legal discussions and academic insights inspire the courts, ensuring the protection and development of fundamental human rights.

In closing, Grannas acknowledged the significance of such conferences, emphasizing that courts operate within a broader context. Intellectual exchanges, like those at the Asma Jahangir Conference, contribute to informed judicial decisions. He wished everyone fruitful discussions, recognizing the legacy of the late lawyer and human rights activist Asma Jahangir, whose name the conference honors.

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