(Yonatan Sindel/Flash90) (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)
Soccer Israel flag

Anti-Semitism or regulations? Berlin police are apologizing for ordering soccer fans to take down an Israeli flag they were waving during a game. 

Berlin police apologized on Monday for preventing the display of the Israeli flag during a soccer game in the German capital.

The incident occurred during Sunday’s second division game between Berlin’s 1. FC Union and FC Ingolstadt. Police ordered fans to remove an Israeli flag they had unfurled in support of Almog Cohen, an Israeli player with the Ingolstadt team.

Klaus Kandt, chief of Berlin police, said that ordering the fans to put the flag away was a mistake by the police officer on the scene who interpreted the display of the flag as a prohibited political statement.

However, the officer was quoted as saying, “No Jewish flags.” Cohen told local media that after the fans were ordered to remove the flag, he approached the officer and “asked him if it was prohibited to fly the flags from any country. He told me: ‘No, just the Jewish flag.’ This amazed me because I have never encountered this in any stadium in Germany. This is the first time I am witness to such an incident.”

Furthermore, Israel’s NRG news points out that a large Palestinian community lives in the vicinity of the stadium and that this could explain the officer’s actions.

The German media claimed that the officer’s actions were motivated by a desire to stop local disturbances that may have broken out because of the Israeli flag.

“It’s the police’s job to protect freedom of expression. The demand to roll up the flag was the incorrect decision for which I apologize to those concerned,” Kandt said.

The police announced that the incident was under investigation and that they intend to apologize to the fans.

By: AP and United with Israel Staff