Internet platform for studying Xenophobia, Radicalism and Problems of Intercultural communication.

Anti-Xenophobic Rhetoric

Anti-Xenophobic Rhetoric Chancellor of the Federal Republic of Germany Angela Merkel with Reinhard Florian, surviving prisoner of Auschwitz.

Despite certain challenges in the field, many German political and social figures are active in combatting xenophobia. On August 9, 2015 German Chancellor Angela Merkel called for solidarity with Israel and combatting anti-Semitism. On September 6, Chancellor Angela Merkel encouraged Germans to be vigilant to the threat of anti-Semitism during the upcoming 75th anniversary of the Kristallnacht. She said that all people in Germany should “demonstrate their civil courage and ensure that no form of anti-Semitism is tolerated.

On September 14, a large rally against anti-Semitism was held in Berlin. President Joachim Gauck and Chancellor Angela Merkel led the event. “We want all Jews to feel safe in Germany,” Merkel said. “This is a terrible scandal that people in Germany today are subjected to violence if they are somehow identified as Jews, or if they stand up for the Israeli state. I will not accept this.” German Chancellor added that Jewish life is part of German identity and culture. She added: “Anyone who attacks someone for wearing a kippah attacks all of use. Anyone who destroys Jewish tombstones offends our culture. Anyone who damages a synagogue damages the foundations of our free society.”

On December 12, German Chancellor Angela Merkel said that there is no place for hatred towards Muslims or any other minority in Germany.

On December 31, Merkel addressed the nation with a New Years speech, where she urged her citizens to help refugees seeking salvation from armed conflicts and turn their back to racists, full of hatred towards immigrants. German Chancellor condemned the European Patriots Against the Islamisation of the West (PEGIDA movement), which organised regular rallies against Muslims and immigrants in Dresden.

On May 27, Minister of Finance Wolfgang Schaeuble called the French National Front party led by Marine Le Pen “fascist”. “It’s not just our French colleagues, we also have to consider what mistakes caused a quarter of French voters to choose a fascist party”, he said.

Speaking at a ceremony dedicated to Roma victims in Auschwitz on August 2, Vice President of the German Parliament Claudia Roth said that such horrors must never happen again. She added that 70 years later, we can say that Sinti and Roma are an integral part of the European culture and our ethnic and cultural wealth and community, which they have been living in for many centuries.

Minister of European Affairs Michael Roth said, in turn, “Today, minorities are respected by the majority and can develop as successfully without losing their own culture and without denying their own roots.”

On September 6, Interior Minister Thomas de Maiziere told Bild: “Sharia laws will not be tolerated on German soil. Nobody is allowed to denigrate the good name of the German police.” Minister was referring to the recent raids of the so-called “Sharia Police” in Germany. Justice Minister Heiko Maas said, in turn, that the state is the only party responsible for the enforcement of the law. “We will not tolerate any illegal parallel justice,” he added.

Chairman of the Bundestag on internal affairs Wolfgang Bosbach said that it is a deliberate provocation by the Salafis. He added that the legal state will not put up with it.

Minister of Justice Heiko Maas urged all parties in the ruling coalition to opposed PEGIDA. Ralf Jaeger, Interior Minister of North Rhine-Westphalia, voiced his concerns about the spread of xenophobic propaganda.

Responding to CSU’s proposal to encourage migrants to speak German at home, Secretary of the Christian Democratic Union Peter Tauber tweeted: “Politicians shouldn’t be concerned whether I talk Latin, Klingon or Hessen dialect in my home.” Social Democratic Party of Germany leader Yasmin Fahimi called this proposal “absurd”. On December 25, Minister for Migration, Refugees and Integration Aydan Ozoguz condemned the rallies organised by PEGIDA, saying “Muslims are German citizens and Islam is their religion. Co-chair of the German Green Party Cem Ozedemir spoke out against the demonstration in Dresden and urged Chacellor Merkel to “recognise that Germany is a country of immigrants”. On December 19, Left Party MPs inquired why Germany did not support the Russian UN Resolution on the need to combat glorification of Nazism. On October 17, chief of the Bavarian State Chancellery, Erwin Huber, called for an immediate suspension of the Big Brother reality show, where one participant made an anti-Semitic joke. Mayor of Erftstadt Volker Erner said that anti-Semitism and xenophobia have no place in his city. On November 11, Mayor of Wanne-Eickel condemned the desecration of a memorial plaque dedicated to Kristallnacht. Members of SDPG condemned Sabina Wolf for posting an anti-Semitic film on Facebook.

Following the rise of PEGIDA and the incidents of hate crimes, as well of institutional racism, the counter protests spread across Germany. In January 2015, Germany’s newspaper Bild published an open letter supported by 80 prominent signatories, appealing to German public to resist rising xenophobia in the country. The signatories of “Nein zu Pegida!”(“No to Pegida!”) appeal, consisted of political figureheads, celebrities, religious dignitaries and other public figures, including two former Chancellors, government ministers (past and present), sport representatives, writers, actors, etc. In the accompanying editorial, Bela Anda, Bild’s deputy editor, wrote: “They [the signatories] are saying no to xenophobia and yes to diversity and tolerance … We should not hand over our streets to hollow rallying cries.” In her New Year’s message to the nation, German Chancellor Angela Merkel appealed to her fellow citizens to say no to PEGIDA, a movement that was, in her words, “full of prejudice, a chilliness, even hatred”. In the weeks that followed, thousands of people took part in counter protests against PEGIDA.

International Holocaust Remembrance Day (the international memorial day, commemorating the victims of the Holocaust, held on 27 January) initiated further discussion on the dangerous tendencies among German (and European) extreme right. During his speech at the Commemoration in Buchenwald, Martin Schulz, a German Social Democrat and President of the European Parliament, has implored Europeans to “fight the return of demons that we thought were overcome but which still show their ugly face – racism, anti-Semitism, ultra-nationalism and intolerance”.

In May 2015, the German government issued a statement of intention to include two Jewish members in its anti-Semitism committee, following a public outcry over the lack of Jewish members in the committee. The government announced that the Interior Minister Thomas de Maizère had asked Andreas Nachama (director of the Topography of Terror Foundation) and Marina Chernivsky (psychologist) to join the committee.

In 2017, the year of parliamentary elections, when the right-wing party "The Alternative for Germany" came to the Parliament, demonstrating xenophobic rhetoric during the election campaign, leading country politicians representing democratic parties, strongly condemned its rhetoric. The SPD chairman and candidate for chancellors Martin Schulz, who left formerly the presidency of the European Parliament, said that "the top of AfG is racist", spoke about "the contradiction of the worldview of AfG to the foundations of our Constitution" and called for the procedure of observation by the security services.

Justice Minister Heiko Maas expressed the opinion that the AfG election program is "partially hostile to the Constitution." Strict criticism of AfG was also present in the telecast of German Chancellor Angela Merkel and her rival Martin Schultz. At the same time, there was a discussion in the society, whether the acute reaction of the top politicians of the Federal Republic of Germany to each xenophobic statement of AfG is expedient. On the one hand, German politicians could not ignore racism. On the other hand, criticism from the chancellor, ministers or chairmen of factions increased the presence of AfG in the information space of the country before the federal and land elections.

Representatives of other parties, in particular CSU, whose policies in 2016 made several unacceptable statements against foreigners and other minorities, in 2017 almost did not go beyond what is permissible. The electoral campaign and the need for CSU affected the future coalition with the CDU. The personal conflict between the chancellor and the head of the CDU Angela Merkel and the Prime Minister of Bavaria and the chairman of the CSU Horst Seehofer also ended. If in 2016 a sharp criticism of the immigration policy of Merkel was for Seehofer an instrument of pressure on the head of the cabinet, then in 2017 the need for this disappeared.

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