Germany’s main music awards to be abolished over win for ‘anti-Semitic’ rap album
The Echo Music Awards are to be completely abolished after a controversial and allegedly anti-Semitic rap album won in its category earlier this month.
The announcement was made by the Music Industry Association on Wednesday. It came in response to the rap album prize being handed this month to rap duo Kollegah and Farid Bang, who in their song "0815" say their bodies are "more defined than an Auschwitz prisoner".
"The Echo brand is so badly damaged that a complete new beginning is necessary," said Germany's Music Industry Association, adding that the "Echo will be no more."
The association said it wanted to have nothing to do with music that promotes with anti-Semitism, misogyny, homophobia and the belittling of violence, pledging that such a mistake would not be repeated in the future.
Steps will now be taken to ensure that a jury is more prominent in picking the pop prize for the award.
The most high profile artist to do so was Israeli conductor Daniel Barenboim, who said in a statement on Tuesday that the rappers' lyrics are "clearly anti-Semitic, misogynist, homophobic and contemptuous of human dignity".
They constituted an "abuse" of free expression which society must "never tolerate", wrote the Jewish general music director of the Berlin State Opera and the Staatskapelle Berlin.
Barenboim said he, the Staatskapelle Berlin and the West-Eastern Divan Orchestra had jointly decided to return the award because "decency and humanity" must outweigh "commercial interests".
The Echo award's organisers noted that while the "events surrounding this year's awards... cannot be reversed, we want to ensure that such a mistake does not repeat itself".
Germany has been shocked by several recent anti-Semitic incidents, including an assault by a Syrian refugee on two men wearing Jewish kippa skullcaps in Berlin.
On Wednesday, Germans staged shows of solidarity with Jews after the incidents that raised pointed questions about Berlin's ability to protect its burgeoning Jewish community seven decades after the Holocaust.