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“Far-right politician converts to Islam, quits AfD party”
Those of us following German politics will be aware of a number of high-profile defections from the Alternative for Germany party in the wake of their formidable election result last September, which saw them enter the Bundestag as the largest opposition party with 94 seats and 13% of the vote. Of the defections, Arthur Wagner, an AfD representative from Brandenburg, is certainly the most curious, since he has not only stepped down from the anti-Islam party but actually converted to Islam!
“Far-right AfD member converted to Islam in protest at acceptance of gay marriage in the church”
A follow-up to this surprising story with a twist that may raise more questions than it answers: Alternative for Germany representative Arthur Wagner, who left the anti-Islam party and converted to Islam, left his Protestant church because of its acceptance of gay marriage (which is now legal in Germany). Not only that, but he shares that he had been considering converting since 2015 – years before he stopped campaigning for the AfD.
“CSU geht vor Sondierung auf Konfrontationskurs bei Migration”
The year began without government, since the 2017 election had not yielded a clear winner.
Migration continued to be the fulcrum of debates around the constitution of a coalition government. The Christian Social Union in Bavaria (CSU) in particular insisted on stricter border security and restriction of immigration.
See also the position paper from the CSU party convention at Kloster Seeon January 4-6, 2018, where the Prime Minister of Hungary Viktor Orbán was an invited speaker.
“Vieles besser, statt alles gleich – für ein schlankes Europa der Stärke”
“Die Geschichte relativiert die heutige Flüchtlingskrise”
Interview with historian Philipp Ther on his new book
Die Außenseiter. Flucht, Flüchtlinge und Integration im modernen Europa. (Berlin: Suhrkamp, 2017)
“Was ist Heimat”
Interesting series of articles
Can one compare “Ossis” and Migrants?
Professorin über Identitäten: “Ostdeutsche sind auch Migranten”
Naika Foroutan, Professor of Integration Research and Social Policy at Humboldt University in Berlin, known for her study Deutschland postmigrantisch (https://www.projekte.hu-berlin.de/de/junited/deutschland-postmigrantisch) has launched an interesting debate comparing the experience of East Germans (“Ossis”) to that of migrants. She claims that experiences such as loosing one’s home and places of memory, feeling foreign and degraded are common to both groups.
Postitive resonance from Jana Hensel:
Wilkommen im Club
and from Ferda Ataman:
Sind Ossis Auch Nur Migranten?
Debatte Ostdeutsche und Migranten: Nicht in die Fallen tappen
Anetta Kahane, commissioner of foreigners’ affairs in East Berlin in 1990 and founder of the Amadeu Antonio Foundation that is engaged in fighting racism and promoting a democratic civil society, argues that this reasoning about the discrimination of “Ossis” buys into the normalization of right-wing nationalism and overlooks the reality of racism.
Fußballer und “ihr Land”
The most lasting legacy of Germany’s 2018 World Cup failure may be the memory of how Mesut Özil, a star for Arsenal and a staple of Joachim Löw’s national team, was scapegoated for Germany’s poor performance by the national media and even the management of the team — not just because of a bad day on the pitch, but because Özil and and fellow Turkish-German national team player Ilkay Gündoğan’s picture with Turkish President Erdoğan that had sparked controversy in Germany:
Özil and Gündoğan’s Erdoğan picture causes anger in Germany
Özil’s performance was blamed on his insufficient allegiance to Germany as a Turk either ignorant of or comfortable with Erdoğan’s apparently un-German authoritarianism, prompting him to resign from the national team with a clear and indignant three-part statement on Twitter (https://twitter.com/MesutOzil1088/status/1020984884431638528). The Turkish president also responded in support of Özil, condemning the “racist attitude” towards the player he described as “completely patriotic” (https://www.bbc.com/sport/football/44943282), and the hashtag #MeTwo sprung up on Twitter as other Germans of color shared their experiences of racism.
“Özil ist Opfer, aber er ist auch Täter”
In an interview with Süddeutsche Zeitung, social scientist Dr. Özkan Ezli argues that the concept of racism is so nuanced and complex that a number of other factors must also be considered – the desire of the management of the Deutscher Fussball-Bund to minimize their own liability for Germany’s World Cup, for example, or the genuine political statement that Özil, regardless of his professedly apolitical intent, could be said to have made by taking the picture with Erdoğan without further context.
While he does not ignore xenophobic comments about Özil from right-wing politicians like AfD’s Alice Weidel, Ezli argues that racist intent was projected onto the management when the bulk of the racism Özil faced was from angry fans on social media, and that discrimination on the part of companies like Mercedes-Benz was motivated by the market logic of avoiding extremist politics rather than specifically racial animus.
“Seehofer erklärt Konflikt mit Merkel für beendet”
The Alternative for Germany’s result in the last election continues to drag the entire German political spectrum rightwards. First AfD left Merkel’s Christian Democrats with an impossible CDU-Liberal-Green coalition as their only face-saving option, and now Bavaria’s Christian Social Union, led by interior minister Horst Seehofer, have shown they can strong-arm her into staying competitive for anti-immigrant votes by closing Germany’s borders to migrants with no papers. “Eine Protestpartei verschwindet, wenn das Problem gelöst ist,” Seehofer argued, more or less explicitly validating the AfD’s criticism of Merkel. “Die AfD wird wieder schwächer werden, wenn die Menschen erkennen, dass wir die für den Aufstieg der AfD ursächlichen Probleme anpacken und lösen.” (“A protest party disappears when the problem is solved. The AfD will become weaker again when people recognize that we are confronting and solving the problems that led to its rise.”)
“Seehofer macht bei PK geschmacklosen Witz über Flüchtlinge”
Huffington Post Deutschland
The CSU leader joked while rolling out the new border controls he was able to get Merkel to agree to in order to keep the essential right-of-center coalition between the CDU and its Bavarian sister party intact: “Ausgerechnet an meinem 69. Geburtstag – das war von mir nicht so bestellt – sind 69 Personen nach Afghanistan zurückgeführt worden.” (“On my 69th birthday of all days—I didn’t ask for this—69 people were sent back to Afghanistan.”)
Following the stabbing of a 35-year old man at a street festival in Chemnitz on August 26, 2018, the city in Saxony became a hotspot of extreme right demonstrations and racist attacks.
For a compilation of articles see Spiegel Online “Krawalle in Chemnitz”:
The events led to a crisis of Angela Merkel’s coalition government.
In an interview with the tabloid Bild, the chief of Verfassungsschutz (Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution) Hans-Georg Maaßen claimed that there was no evidence of racist chases in Chemnitz, despite widely circulating video footage.
“Keine Informationen über Hetzjagden”
“Maaßen bleibt dabei: Kein Beleg über Hetzjagden in Chemnitz”
Minister of the Interior Horst Seehofer backed Maaßen who was subsequently removed from his post, but put in charge of internal security.
“Merkel’s Spy Chief, a Hero to the Far Right, Is Removed After Public Rift”
Der Tagesspiegel, 9/19/2018
“Maaßen wird Staatssekretär für Innere Sicherheit und Cybersicherheit”
Who is counted as having a “migration background”? The public broadcasting channel ARD claimed in their announcement of the documentary “Türken, entscheidet Euch!” that the film would introduce viewers to the world of 4.5 million German Turks, a number that was subsequently corrected to 2.8 million…
In an interesting essay on moments of fiction in the production of statistical census categories, Ferda Ataman takes on the ARD for “paternalism” in their reporting…
SPIEGEL ONLINE 6/2/2018
“Schafft den Migrationshintergrund ab!”
The rise of the far-right in Germany has shown a troubling relationship to the anti-Semitism now so strongly rebuked in the mainstream of German society: While the bulk of the Alternative for Germany’s racism is reserved for Muslims, the party’s most outspoken voices have broken taboos against Holocaust denial as well in their creeping rehabilitation of brazen ethnic nationalism.
“Juden in der AfD”
Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung
The forthcoming founding of the Jüdische Alternative für Deutschland (Jewish Alternative for Germany) in Offenbach, to be attended by aristocratic AfD bigwig Beatrix von Storch, has led many, including the Central Council of Jews in Germany:
“Zentralrat der Juden greift AfD an”
to question the wisdom of, as the founding members of the Jewish Alternative write, “an alliance of right-wing conservatives in Europe with Jews [“Judentum”]” against their purported common enemy in Muslim immigrants.
“Bei AfD-Hardliner-Treffen zeigt sich, wie radikal die Partei wirklich ist”
Huffington Post Deutschland
At a far-right summit, AfD chairman Björn Hocke suggested Germany’s Islamization will be worse than the Holocaust, claiming “we may soon experience a rupture of culture and civilization the likes of which neither we nor our ancestors have ever seen.” In Germany, “Zivilisationsbruch” (the rupture of civilization) refers to the Third Reich as a historical aberration, which explains why Björn Höcke can refer to this future nightmare of multicultural degeneracy as not only a comparable break, but an even more fundamental break, with German tradition.