Germany tells minorities 'we are on your side' amid far-right remigration talks

Chancellor Olaf Scholz meets Muslim and Jewish representatives amid worsening social tension

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz, centre, and his integration chief Reem Alabali-Radovan, second right, met minority and migrant leaders at the chancellery in Berlin. AFP
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German Chancellor Olaf Scholz told minorities including Muslims, Jews and people with migrant roots on Monday that Berlin’s political leadership “stands on your side” amid fears of mass deportations.

Mr Scholz and his integration chief Reem Alabali-Radovan held talks with migrant groups and Jewish and Muslim representatives on Monday as they look to calm spiralling social tension in Germany.

They heard stories of fear and daily racial discrimination facing minorities, amid a spike in hate crimes during the Israel-Gaza war and record-high support for the far right in opinion polls.

Secret far-right talks on “remigration” and efforts by some politicians to link citizenship rights to support for Israel’s right to exist have led to some migrants fearing for their future in Germany.

“Germany is our common home, yet many people are worrying and asking whether they have a future in Germany,” said Mr Scholz after Monday's meeting. “They feel that right-wing extremists are referring to them when they spread their contemptuous ideas about resettlement.

“We stand on your side. We will not allow extremism and intolerance to divide our society. All 84 million citizens in our country have the same rights and are worthy of respect.”

Ms Alabali-Radavan, a child of Iraqi parents, said people from Muslim, Jewish, gipsy and migrant communities felt especially that “our democracy is being threatened”.

“Many of us with a migrant background are not surprised by the latest revelations about racist deportation fantasies,” she said.

Members of the far-right Alternative for Germany (AfD) party were revealed last month to have taken part in secret talks on resettling foreigners. The meeting at a hotel near Berlin was compared to the 1942 Wannsee Conference where Nazi officials planned the Final Solution.

Thousands of people have taken to the streets in German cities to show solidarity against the far right, in what the AfD complains is an orchestrated campaign against it.

Ms Alabali-Radovan said the extent of the secret talks made it part of “a continuum” of racist incidents in Germany, such as an arson attack on a Turkish family in 1993 and a far-right shooting at two shisha bars in 2020.

“From our exchange today and from many messages in recent days I can report: many people are afraid,” she said.

Parliament recently passed a new citizenship law that will speed up the process of acquiring German citizenship, a move expected to benefit many Turkish and Syrian nationals.

At the same time, ministers are acting to deport more failed asylum seekers and there are concerns from pro-Palestinian activists that they could fall foul of migration law for expressing anti-Israeli views.

Updated: February 06, 2024, 7:55 AM