DUBAI (Reuters) – Iran has condemned Berlin’s ban of Hezbollah activity in Germany and its designation of the Iranian-backed Lebanese group as a terrorist organisation, saying the move serves U.S. and Israeli interests, Iranian state media reported on Friday.
German police on Thursday raided mosque associations alleged to be close to Hezbollah and banned all the group’s activity on its soil after designating it a terrorist organisation, a much-anticipated step long urged by Israel and the United States.
“It appears that certain countries in Europe are adopting their stances without considering the realities in the West Asia region and by paying regard only to the objectives of the propaganda machine of the Zionist regime and the confused U.S. regime,” Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Abbas Musavi said in a statement late on Thursday.
He criticised the German government for accusing Hezbollah “of promoting armed struggle with terrorist means.” He said the group was “an official and legitimate” member of the Lebanese government and parliament and a force of “political stability.”
According to the German Interior Ministry, the ban means that Hezbollah symbols cannot be shown at gatherings and in publications or in the media and Hezbollah assets can be seized. Because it is a foreign organisation, it is not possible to ban and dissolve it, the ministry said in a statement.
Israel, which with the United States had been pushing Germany to ban the group, praised the move. Israel urged other European Union countries to take similar action.
The EU classifies Hezbollah’s military wing as a terrorist group, but not its political wing. Britain introduced legislation in February of last year, before it left the EU, that classified Hezbollah as a terrorist organisation.
Reporting by Dubai newsroom; Editing by Mark Heinrich