• Germany's news in English

Hamburg addresses racism by bouncers on the Reeperbahn

Kristen Allen · 31 Oct 2008, 17:36

Published: 31 Oct 2008 17:36 GMT+01:00

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

After a first round of talks that included club owners, politicians and city officials, Justice Minister Till Steffen told Hamburger Abendblatt this week that the city needs to “hone the criteria the doormen use to turn guests away.”

This August, Ethiopian human rights lawyer Awol Allo, in Hamburg attending a summer programme at the International Tribunal on the Law of the Sea, filed complaints with the Hamburg Department of Justice and the federal anti-discrimination office after being turned away from clubs in the Reeperbahn area five times.

"I was the only black person in a large group, and the only person prevented from entering the clubs, and that’s the most offending part," Allo told The Local on Friday from his home in Ethiopia. "For something like this to happen in Germany, presumably a very liberal place, in 2008, is outrageous."

Allo said he spoke to several Hamburg residents with immigration backgrounds who said they had had similar experiences. Daily Hamburger Abendblatt decided to substantiate his claims, sending two men – one from the Ivory Coast, and one of Iranian descent – to try their luck at Reeperbahn clubs. They were rejected from eight of nine clubs, the paper reported.

"I was actually more concerned about the police than the club owners," Allo told The Local, adding that their reaction ultimately spurred him to make official complaints. "They told me the club owners were allowed to turn me away, which is against Germany’s obligation to protect against discrimination."

Club owners at the round table said they do not discriminate, though they did admit mistakes are sometimes made.

"Today we can tell the politicians what our take on the situation is," Mahmood Alkassaby, owner of the "Location 1 2 3” club, told the paper. "That there is not discrimination. We ban only dark-skinned customers who cause problems."

Doorman Viktor Hacker said: "We have to be very strict, but we aren’t racists."

Club owners and bouncers told the paper that the Reeperbahn area has been suffering from increasingly aggressive patrons, causing tension for club owners who have been hiring more security.

"Sometimes we size up a customer incorrectly and make a poor decision," Thomas Gehle from "Klub Astoria" said.

Story continues below…

Justice Minister Till Steffen, who wrote Allo a personal letter promising to pursue the issue, told the paper he plans to have more such discussions, adding that club owners had convinced politicians they were not practicing overt discrimination.

Allo, who left Germany on August 31 to return to Ethiopia, awaits news on whether he can get legal aid to press charges in the German court system.

Kristen Allen (kristen.allen@thelocal.de)

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

Today's headlines
Long-vanished German car brand joins electric race
Photo: DPA

Cars bearing the stamp of once-defunct manufacturer Borgward will once again roll off an assembly line in north Germany from 2018, the firm said Wednesday.

Eurowings cabin crew union to strike all day Thursday
Photo: DPA.

UPDATE: A union representing cabin crews on Lufthansa's budget airline Eurowings has announced that strikes will last all day Thursday as ongoing contract negotiations continue to falter.

Hesse hopes to set example by building Iraqi orphanages
Refugee children in northern Iraq. Photo: DPA

The wealthy central German state of Hesse has set aside €1 million to build a school, family homes and an orphanage in northern Iraq, in an effort to help refugees there.

The Local List
10 German clichés that foreigners get very wrong
David Hasselhoff. Photo: DPA

Whether it be efficiency, humourlessness or a love of a certain Baywatch star, there are many cliches stuck in the heads of foreigners about Germany. But how true are they?

Fake Germanwings victim relative convicted in Cologne
A torn piece of metal at the crash site in 2015. Photo: DPA

A German court on Wednesday gave a woman a year's suspended jail sentence for posing as the cousin of a victim in last year's Germanwings plane crash and obtaining compensation offered by the airline.

Couple accused of torturing, murdering women go on trial
The so-called 'house of horrors' in Höxter where the couple allegedly tortured and killed women. Photo: DPA.

A couple accused of luring women to their village home with personal ads started trial on Wednesday over charges that they tortured and killed at least two of their victims.

After July attacks, govt drafts new video surveillance law
Photo: DPA

The Interior Ministry is drafting a law which will enable public spaces to be filmed for surveillance purposes as a reaction to deadly attacks in July, according to a newspaper report.

Merkel: murky internet giants distort perception of reality
Angela Merkel. Photo: DPA.

Chancellor Angela Merkel called on Tuesday for internet giants to make public their closely-guarded algorithms, claiming that they are not giving people diverse enough information.

Pegida leader 'paid court costs with group's money'
Pegida leader Lutz Bachmann. Photo: DPA.

The leader of the anti-Islam movement reportedly used money from Pegida's coffers to pay for two personal court cases, German media reported this week.

Anger as Berlin scraps Turkey concert on Armenia genocide
The Dresden Symphony Orchestra. Photo: DPA

Germany's foreign ministry Tuesday scrapped a planned symphony performance on the Armenian "genocide" in its Istanbul consulate, sparking accusations that it was caving in to Turkish pressure.

10 ways German completely messes up your English
Sponsored Article
Last chance to vote absentee in the US elections
Germany's 10 most weird and wonderful landmarks
10 things you never knew about socialist East Germany
How Germans fell in love with America's favourite squash
How I ditched London for Berlin and became a published author
12 clever German idioms that'll make you sound like a pro
23 fascinating facts you never knew about Berlin
9 unmissable events to check out in Germany this October
10 things you never knew about German reunification
10 things you're sure to notice after an Oktoberfest visit
Germany's 10 most Instagram-able places
15 pics that prove Germany is absolutely enchanting in autumn
10 German films you have to watch before you die
6 things about Munich that’ll stay with you forever
10 pieces of German slang you'll never learn in class
Ouch! Naked swimmer hospitalized after angler hooks his penis
Six reasons why Berlin is now known as 'the failed city'
15 tell-tale signs you’ll never quite master German
7 American habits that make Germans very, very uncomfortable
Story of a fugitive cow who outwitted police for weeks before capture
Eleven famous Germans with surnames that'll make your sides split
jobs available
Toytown Germany
Germany's English-speaking crowd