A tweet by Leipzig University professor Thomas Rauscher sent out on Monday is what triggered the recent controversy. The professor had retweeted a news article about the neo-Nazi march in Poland over the weekend, stating: “A white Europe of fraternal nations. For me, that is a wonderful goal!”
The following day, he took to Twitter again: “We don’t owe the Arabs and Africans anything. They have destroyed their continent through corruption, shenanigans, uninhibited multiplication and tribal and religious wars and are now taking away what we have built with diligence.”
Thomas Rauscher, Professor an der juristischen Fakultät der Universität Leipzig für ein “weißes Europa” und gegen die “ungehemmte Vermehrung von Afrikanern und Arabern” pic.twitter.com/k5FvvAosqW
— Ismail Küpeli (@ismail_kupeli) November 15, 2017
The minister of science and art in Saxony, Eva-Maria Stange, immediately reacted on social media by tweeting: “Saxony's universities are cosmopolitan and international. I strongly criticize Rauscher's xenophobic opinions.”
Sachsens Hochschulen sind weltoffen und international. Die ausländerfeindliche Meinung von #Rauscher kritisiere ich scharf
— Eva-Maria Stange (@StangeMaria) November 15, 2017
Leipzig University also reacted to Rauscher’s tweets. On Wednesday, the institution explicitly condemned the professor’s statements.
“We stand for cosmopolitanism and tolerance and oppose intolerant and xenophobic ideas. We have made this clear time and again in recent years through statements and university activities and will continue to do so in the future,” the institution said.
“We will now begin investigations and examine the employment law measures against Professor Rauscher,” Leipzig University added. So far there have not been any consequences for the faculty member.
Others think the institution and the science minister’s reactions don’t allow one to freely express one’s opinion. Maximilian Krah, a Dresden-based lawyer, stated that it was time for a “government change in Saxony” in one of his tweets, adding: “We will fight for your freedom of speech, Professor Rauscher!”
— Dr. Maximilian Krah (@KrahMax) November 15, 2017
The professor’s Twitter account has since been taken off the social media platform.
But people have been making their opinions known offline as well.
On Thursday, two students interrupted one of the professor’s lectures and drew attention to his comments, according to Spiegel.
The students placed themselves at the front of the class and before Rauscher had even arrived, began reading the professor’s tweets out loud. Meanwhile other students in the lecture hall distributed flyers and the tweets in question were projected onto a large screen.
A video capturing the initiative was then posted onto the Socialist Democratic Student Union in Leipzig's (SDS) Facebook page.
This isn’t the first time Rauscher, who has been teaching at Leipzig University since 1993, has stirred controversy for his views.
In another one of his tweets from last year, he said: “There is no peaceful Islam. The basic concept of this 'religion' is warlike proliferation.”
But the professor finds the accusations of racism against him “absolutely ridiculous.” In an interview with the Huffington Post, he said the accusations were being carried out “to kill certain approaches, discussions and any criticism of current refugee policies.”
In response to the comments he made in his retweet earlier this week of the neo-Nazi march in Poland, he said it was important to be aware of one’s own culture and history.
“White Europe – and I would like to say this quite clearly in a positive light, similar to a black Africa or a Thai Thailand – is a wonderful goal,” Rauscher said.