Ukraine says US has shared 'important data'
The Iran crisis is being followed closely in Germany. Three of the victims of the Ukraine airlines crash were German citizens, including Paniz Soltani, a 29-year-old scientist of Iranian-German citizenship, who worked at the Max Planck Institute in Mainz, and a 30-year-old woman of German-Afghan nationality and her children, eight and five, from the state of North Rhine Westphalia.
The national airline, Lufthansa, has cancelled all flights to and from Tehran until further notice. On Thursday night it ordered a plane from Frankfurt to Tehran to turn back as reports emerged that the crash had been caused by an Iranian missile. A spokeswoman for Lufthansa said: “Lufthansa flights from and to Teheran have been cancelled as a precaution.” She did not say when the ban would be lifted.
The German government, keen to keep alive the fragile Iran Nuclear deal framework, has been cautious not to be seen to support what is widely viewed in Germany as the Trump administration’s belligerent and provocative approach towards Iran following the killing of its military chief Quassem Suleimani. But its foreign minister Heiko Maas has said the death was hardly surprising given that Suleimani “has drawn a trail of blood and violence throughout the Middle East.” It was “for that reason” that he was on the EU’s terrorist list, he said.
But critics in Germany who fear the government has taken a hitherto over-friendly stance towards Iran, have said the government should be looking closer to home, voicing concern over the influence of supporters loyal to the current Iranian regime living in Germany.
In particular, attention is being focussed on a mosque in Hamburg where worshippers have been gathering in the past few days to publicly mourn the death of Suleimani.
The Imam Ali Mosque situated on the Alster river in the northern port city held a memorial service, as it stated: “in honour of Soleimani and the nine additional victims” of the US drone attack, last Sunday as well as holding subsequent events to mourn his passing.
Reporting on the services, Der Spiegel, said that Hamburg’s Social Democrat-Green coalition government has been urged by critics from the Christian Democrats, the pro-business FDP and the right wing populist AfD, to cease its six year state cooperation with the IZH, the Islamic Centre of Hamburg, which is responsible for the running of the mosque, amid concern over its growing political influence.
The public homage being paid to Soleimani, says Spiegel, “is acting like dynamite in the debate about the correct way to deal with political Islam in Germany”. But the Hamburg senate has said it has no plans to break the cooperation, which it claimed “offers important chances for the development of the relationship between the city and the Islamic communities and as a whole for the better integration of Muslims”.
Richard Ratcliffe said the fallout from Donald Trump’s assassination of the Iranian general Qassem Suleimani was taking a toll on the mental health of his wife, Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe.
Zaghari-Ratcliffe has been detained since 2016 after she was arrested on espionage charges and jailed for five years.
She is among up to five people with dual British-Iranian nationality, or with UK connections, believed to be in prison in Iran. Their families have said they are being held as collateral and that the heightened tensions have made it harder to secure their release.