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DISCRIMINATION

Violent hate crime doubled in 2015 in Berlin: report

The number of attacks motivated by anti-Semitism, racism, homophobia or other forms of discrimination nearly doubled in the capital city in 2015, hate crime monitoring groups report.

Violent hate crime doubled in 2015 in Berlin: report
A demonstration against racism and violence in Stuttgart. Photo: DPA.

Hate crime monitoring groups ReachOut and Berliner Register reported on Tuesday 320 incidents of assault in 2015, up from 179 in 2014. Twenty-five of the attacks last year were connected to anti-Semitism, compared to 18 the year before.

Most attacks (175) were connected to racism while 43 were against LGBT people.

Another 412 people were followed, threatened or hurt – of whom 42 were children. ReachOut said they were particularly alarmed by cases involving children, such as when a man uttered racial slurs to a mother holding a one-year-old baby and then pushed them, the baby falling from its mother's arms into its stroller.

Another case that made headlines across the country last year was when two neo-Nazis urinated on children riding Berlin public transport, hurling racist insults at them and their mother. 

“It is especially appalling and brutal when racially motivated attacks are made against children,” said Sabine Seyb from ReachOut in a statement.

The report found a total of 1,820 hate incidents, including extreme right-wing, racist, homophobic as well as anti-Semitic motivations. The incidents ranged from violent attacks to “propaganda” such as stickers, graffiti and posters.

Propaganda made up the largest portion of the 1,820 incidents, at 683 reports.

“In this way, individual neighbourhoods can show the types of actions by neo-Nazis and everyday forms of discrimination that are not necessarily reflected in official statistics,” the report states.

Reports of anti-Semitism increase by one-third

The groups also reported 401 anti-Semitic incidents in 2015 – 34 percent higher than the number of incidents known in 2014 and more than twice the number of anti-Semitic crimes reported by Berlin police in 2014 (193).

Part of the reason for the higher number of reported incidents is that the group that collected the data, the city-sponsored Anti-semitism Research and Information Point (RIAS), only launched at the beginning of 2015 and thus did not collect reports during the year before.

RIAS allows residents to report any anti-Semitic incident, from verbal insults to written propaganda to violent attacks.

“The sharp increase in reports since the public announcement of the new reporting options simply shows that we are on the right course to discover the extent of anti-Semitism every day in our city,” said RIAS coordinator Benjamin Steinitz in a statement. “Although the number of 401 incidents is alarmingly high, we still assume that there are a large number of unreported cases.”

SEE ALSO: German Jewish groups fear rising anti-Semitism

Most of the anti-Semitic incidents recorded by RIAS were threats, insults or vulgar statements which accounted for 210 incidents, followed by property damage (72) and propaganda (68).

“Many Jewish people feel increasingly insecure in light of the growing attacks and anti-Semitic hostility on the street, in school yards and sports fields,” said Deidre Berger, director of the Berlin American Jewish Committee, in a statement. 

Berger said she has observed the development of anti-Semitism in Germany for 30 years.

“More and more Jewish people report to us that they rarely or never identify themselves in public any more as being Jewish.”

RACISM

Black people in Germany face ‘widespread’ racism, survey finds

In the Afrocensus, a first-of-its-kind survey charting the lived experiences of black people in Germany, the vast majority revealed they experienced 'extensive' discrimination in almost all aspects of public life.

Dr Karamba Diaby
Dr Karamba Diaby, an SPD politician and anti-racism advocate, carries out voluntary work in his constituency of Halle, Saxony-Anhalt. Photo: picture alliance/dpa/dpa-Zentralbild | Hendrik Schmidt

“The results of the Afrocensus indicate that anti-Black racism is widespread in Germany and anchored in institutions,” the authors of the new report said in a press release on Tuesday. “There is no area of life in which discrimination and racism are not extensive problems.”

Though the overwhelming majority of respondents said they had experienced discrimination at least ‘sometimes’ in almost all areas of life, housing was the area where they said they were discriminated against most often.

Just two percent of respondents to the Afrocensus said they had ‘rarely’ or ‘never’ experienced racism in the housing market, compared to more than 90 percent who said they had experienced it ‘often’ or ‘very often’.

READ ALSO: ‘Black lives need to matter in Germany’ New project to uncover racism in everyday life

Experiences with police and security personnel also counted among areas of life where racism was particularly prevalent: 88 percent of respondents had experienced discrimination from security staff ‘often’ or ‘very often’, while around 85 percent had had the same experience with police.

More than 85 percent had also experienced racism in their education or in the workplace ‘often’ or ‘very often’ in Germany. One in seven had lost their job during the Covid crisis. 

According to the report, 90 percent of respondents had also experienced having their hair grabbed, while more than half (56 percent) had been stopped by the police or asked for drugs by strangers.

Meanwhile, 80 percent said people had made comments about the colour of their skin or sexualised comments about their race on dating apps. A vast majority – 90 percent – also revealed they hadn’t been believed when they’d spoken out about racism in the past, or that people had said they were “too sensitive”. 

READ ALSO: OPINION: My experiences of everyday racism in Germany

In spite of widespread discrimination, almost half (47 percent) of the respondents were engaged and active in their community – mostly carrying out some form of social or voluntary work.

First of its kind

Based on wide-ranging data, the findings paint a vivid and concerning picture of what life is like for the one million or so black people living in Germany today.

To produce the report, researchers from Berlin-based Black community group Each One Teach One and Citizens for Europe conducted an extended survey of 6,000 black people from the Africans and Afrodiasporic community to try and discover more about on the everyday lives and experiences of this group. The survey was carried out between July and September 2020. 

It represents one of the first attempts to gather a wealth of quantitative data on this subject, and as such offers some of the first truly scientific insights into anti-Black racism in modern Germany.

“With the Afrocensus, we have succeeded in doing exactly what has long been demanded within the black community for a long time: making the realities of our lives visible within the framework of qualitative, but above all quantitative research,” Dr. Pierrette Herzberger-Fofana und Dr. Karamba Diaby wrote in a foreword to the report. 

Diaby, a high-profile politician within the centre-left SPD party, was one of only two Afro-German politicians in parliament when he first took his seat in 2013. He has since become known for promoting political engagement and empowerment within the migrant and black community. 

In January 2020, an unknown gunman fired shots through the window of his constituency office in Halle, Saxony-Anhalt, in a suspected racially motivated attack. 

READ ALSO: How people with migrant backgrounds remain underrepresented in German politics

Since the Second World War, Germany has avoided gathering data that allows people to be traced by ethnicity as a means of protecting persecuted groups.

However, critics say this approach only works to make the issues faced by these groups invisible. 

Writing on Twitter, Daniel Gyamerah, Division Lead at Citizens For Europe, called for an “action plan for tackling anti-Black racism and for empowering black, African and Afrodiasporic people” and the establishment of advice centres for people facing racism and discrimination.

More research into the intersectional experience of black people in Germany is needed, he added. 

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