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  • Centro de Investigaciones en Derechos Humanos 10:36 pm on March 18, 2012 Permalink | Reply
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    Not a very good day for equality in Germany 

    Alphia Abdikeeva, CIDH Pro Igual

    Last week the highest appellate court in Germany ruled that hotels could turn away right-wing extremists on grounds of the latter´ political views.

    The case that received considerable domestic attention concerned a hotel in the state of Brandenburg which, in 2009, refused to provide a room to the former head of the extreme right-wing National Democratic Party (NPD), Udo Voigt. Voigt sued the hotel for discrimination, for banning him on the grounds of his political opinions. The hotel argued that the right-wing extremist´s presence was detrimental to the hotel´s image and reputation. The lower instance courts found in favor of the hotel.

    The Federal Court of Justice ruled that while the hotel could not retroactively cancel the booking, because it failed to demonstrate how Vogt had previously upset other guests with his presence, the hotel was fundamentally “free to decide whom it accepts and whom it does not.” The highest Court admitted that the case raised extremely difficult legal issues, including whether hotels (and by extension restaurants, discos, shops, etc.) are public spaces open to everyone. The case also pitted personal freedom/autonomy against equality. Article 3 of the German Basic Law bans discrimination, inter alia, on the basis of religious or political views. However, the Court stated this principle may not apply between private people and companies.

    This is where the Court, in my opinion, was monumentally wrong. First of all, the principle of discrimination does apply in both public and private sphere. Although the concept may be still new and even somewhat alien in Germany, the EU Race Directive, which Germany had to transpose, extends prohibition of discrimination to both public and private sector. Article 3.1(h) of the Race Directive specifically stipulates non-discriminatory “access to and supply of goods and services which are available to the public, including housing.” Second, the German Basic Law (Article 18) contains a clause whereby persons abusing their constitutional rights could forfeit those rights. The German Court chose instead to conclude that private establishments are free to choose whether and to whom render their services.

    So, before we yield to the temptation to celebrate that neo-Nazi thugs would from now on sleep in the streets instead of hotels, let´s consider implications of the ruling. In reality, what is more likely to happen and in fact happens practically on a daily basis: that private service establishments would turn away white right-wing extremists, or unpopular immigrants/minorities? This was a rather unique case involving the known neo-Nazi, that is, someone a priori rejecting the very principle he tried to invoke. But with this ruling, the Court has handed German private establishments a legal license to discriminate.

    All in all, not a very good day for equal treatment in Germany.

     
  • Centro de Investigaciones en Derechos Humanos 11:03 am on February 28, 2012 Permalink | Reply
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    Germany´s neo-Nazi terrorism: time for reflection 

    By Alphia Abdikeeva, CIDH Pro Igual

    In February 2012, German Chancellor Angela Merkel had apologized to the families of the victims of apparent hate crimes for the failure of the German state to find and prosecute perpetrators. The so-called “döner murders” of mostly ethnic Turkish entrepreneurs had taken place between 2000 and 2007, but had remained unresolved until a recent and accidental discovery of the neo-Nazi link.

    “Most of you were abandoned in your time of need. Some relatives were themselves for years suspected of wrongdoing. That is particularly oppressive. For this, I ask for your forgiveness,” stated Ms. Merkel.

    Establishing the neo-Nazi connection to the murders had prompted soul-searching among the German authorities trying to understand how and why so many hate crimes against immigrants could have been overlooked for so long. The answer to this mystery may be closer than many think, as Ms. Merkel´s apology stands in a stark contrast with her earlier speech on the failure of multiculturalism in Germany. Then, in no uncertain terms, the German Chancellor suggested that the immigrants bore at least partial responsibility for failing to integrate… or to leave:

    “We kidded ourselves a while, we said: ‘They won’t stay, sometime they will be gone,’ but this isn’t reality.”

    That is the crux of the problem, isn´t it? Immigrants would not leave. Immigrants would not put their lives on hold while giving their best years and energy working in host countries. Immigrants would go on to have families and children. Immigrants would not abandon their identity, culture, religion, food, or dress code. And so they are charged with being responsible for inspiring distrust, hate, or envy, or all of the above. The long tradition of xenophobia and blaming (perceived) outsiders for political, economic, or social failures of the country is carefully omitted.

    Of course, immigrants are still needed, just as they were needed after the WWII rebuilding their host country from the ruin in which extreme xenophobia and racism had left the entire continent. Today as ever Germany depends on the immigrant labor to power its economy. This is why Ms. Merkel´s belated apology, albeit welcome, seems somewhat disingenuous and self-serving. But genuine or calculated, this is a high time for reflection, in Germany and elsewhere, as to who their real enemies are.

    There is poignant symbolism in the “döner murders” affair. The law-abiding, entrepreneurial immigrants were slain by German criminals that hardly made any contribution to German society. However, even the reputably efficient German police could not escape the usual stereotyping and by default looked for perpetrators among the immigrant community. That, despite the growing evidence that the threat of violence emanates not only or not as much as from immigrants or minorities, as from poorly educated, disenfranchised, racist and increasingly extremist majority youths falling prey to clandestine yet highly organized right-wing organizations. Suffice it to mention the Breivik´s killing spree in Norway and his ideological influences to underscore the reality of the threat.

    While even mainstream politicians across Europe try to score cheap victories by engaging in demagogic populism and indulging public intolerance with myths about immigrants “stealing jobs,” “scamming welfare,” or “engaging in terrorism,” the much deadlier threat comes to fruition: the neo-Nazi terrorism.

     
  • Centro de Investigaciones en Derechos Humanos 8:59 am on September 9, 2010 Permalink | Reply
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    A ghost of racism in Europe? 

    Alphia Abdikeeva, CIDH ProIgual

    Rephrasing a late European philosopher, a ghost wonders about Europe, a ghost of racism. How else can those facts be interpreted:

    • Nicolas Sarkozi deports Roma indiscriminately, and his approval rating with the French public shoots up from 30 something to over 60%.
    • Thilo Sarazin publishes an anti-Semitic, anti-Muslim book, and it is a bestseller in Germany before even hitting the bookshelves. (He must be chuckling to himself for all the free advertisement he got, thanks to frantic media coverage.)
    • Geert Wilders recycles a few unimaginative islamophobic slogans of the late Dutch xenophobes, and he comes third in the national election. And his promise to join in Muslim bashing on “ground zero” only seems to push his popularity higher.
    • “Mother Reich” Barbara Rosenkranz, spouse of an effective neo-nazi, came second in Austrian elections on strikingly ultra-right rhetoric.
    • Berlusconi… well, the point is clear.

    Something is profoundly wrong with the political climate across Europe. And there is no point in sacking, condemning or silencing the people who just say what the majority of others think and evidently support. They are merely messengers of the public opinion which does not want foreigners, Roma, Muslims, Africans, others (insert as appropriate) in their countries.

    In 2000, Jorg Haider´s xenophobic slogans led the rest of Europe to spring up in defence of human rights, Austria even faced EU sanctions. Ten years later, much stronger-worded xenophobia, sometimes coupled with action, of the above politicians does not seem to prompt similar reaction and action. Is it fatigue? Or is it acceptance that xenophobia, far from being a marginal force, is the political mainstream, best expressing what European public support?

    Perhaps, concentrating anger on groups regarded as alien provides, albeit illusionary, escape from much more complex and invincible every day issues, such as economic crises, ever increasing climate problems, and so on, and so forth. It is certainly more placable than suggesting that racism, intolerance and persecution of difference may be part of common European psyche, “European common values.”

    For the sake of Europe, I would very much like to believe that one day this propensity to look for scapegoats will be overcome, and more rational and pragmatic thinking will prevail among the majority. Let´s hope this happens before the “beware of the enemy” attitude would result in yet another great human  catastrophe.

     
    • thilo2 1:34 pm on October 2, 2010 Permalink | Reply

      es sind einfach zu viele geworden die menschen verlieren ihre identität.

    • Adam 12:22 pm on September 30, 2010 Permalink | Reply

      Oh stop with the lies. and smear. It is only right and fair that all European Countries are being reluctant to allow people in who don’t want to live by European Values – and it is also fair European’s want to ensure there countries are populated, in the distant future, with people of their descent. You must be a women, or a person desperately trying to become a journalist by writing about politically correct speaking points, in the hope of some day getting on with a major news paper. Maybe you should try to do some actual reporting on the streets before you start with your ‘opinion piece’, because, quite frankly, you seem to have no clue what you are talking about.

    • Rick 5:48 pm on September 20, 2010 Permalink | Reply

      I believe that most Europeans are not opposed to the presence of foreigners living and working in their countries. What they ARE against is a large demographic change that will , over time, destroy the uniqueness of their Caucasian nations, and turn them into multi-racial, multi-cultural Towers of Babel!

  • Centro de Investigaciones en Derechos Humanos 5:59 pm on September 1, 2010 Permalink | Reply
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    I have nothing against Germany, but the racist discourse there is troubling… and never dying 

    Alphia Abdikeeva, CIDH Pro Igual

    There appears to be an unhealthy preoccupation with immigrant fertility rates among European elites. A German banker with an interesting name Thilo Sarrazin appears concerned — and has made his concerns public — that Muslim immigrants in Germany procreate too much and that in 90 years

    the land of his grandchildren and great grandchildren to be predominantly Muslim, where Turkish and Arabic are spoken in broad sections of the country, where women wear a headscarf and where the daily rhythm of life is determined by the call of the muezzins.

    Christian Science Monitor quotes German federal authorities who “have disputed his claims, saying that second and third generations of immigrants are already showing significantly reduced birth rates…” Furthermore, it also quotes Brookings Institution expert Justin Vaisse who “argues similar declines with immigrant birth rate in France.”

    In other words, don´t worry, Thilo, hopefully Muslims won´t outbaby Germans after all.

    But why am I left uncomfortable with those expert views even more than with the racist banker´s bluntness? Is it because Germany´s preoccupation with “fremde Rassen” and their fertility has chilling historic associations?

    After all, nobody can know which people will be a majority in which land in what time (and frankly who cares?) British Isles, North and South America, Australia, Africa, and most countries in Europe too, were populated by a variety of different peoples throughout history, before the present make up, and surely the present make up is not final, either. Unless Thilo Sarrazin, or German federal authorities, have a specific plan in mind, they hardly can change inevitable forces of history. And if they do have a plan, I´d like to know what it consists of.

     
    • Volker 5:23 am on September 2, 2010 Permalink | Reply

      Another racist anti-German remark on the web, how refreshing.

      • Rajka 8:38 am on September 2, 2010 Permalink | Reply

        how is it racist?

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