July 8, 2021


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Hanau assault mourners: ‘Germany should cope with racism, far proper’ | Germany

Berlin, Germany – It has been an exhausting three months for Seda Ardal and others who misplaced family members on February 19, within the far-right assault on a shisha bar and a sports activities cafe in Hanau, central Germany.

From media interviews to lawyer conferences, these affected have been attempting to maintain the reminiscence of the victims alive, and strain on politicians excessive.

9 individuals died within the assault by the alleged perpetrator, 43-year-old Thomas Rathjen, who went on to kill himself and his mom. 

German authorities later discovered a confession letter expressing racist and far-right views.


After the assault, mourners held up images, believed to be of victims, throughout a vigil near the crime scene in Hanau, close to Frankfurt [Patrick Hertzog/AFP]

Ardal is amongst a gaggle of mourners marking the three-month anniversary on Tuesday, at a community-funded area arrange close to the shisha bar within the wake of the killings.

She misplaced somebody shut within the assault however requested Al Jazeera to not identify who out of respect for all of the households in mourning, so her loss doesn’t seem any extra vital.

“It’s been very hard for us but we have just tried to be there for each other, be strong and keep going,” she informed Al Jazeera. “The area is enjoying a really massive position as a result of household and associates have been sharing their emotions with individuals who know precisely what they are going by means of.”

The assaults got here amid a so-called “clan debate” that had been enjoying out in Germany’s political and media landscapes for years. 

The anti-immigrant Different For Germany celebration (AfD) first spoke about “clans” – felony households with a migration background – again in 2017, once they referred to as for citizenship to be revoked if migrants had been discovered to belong to at least one.

The problem has since been taken up by politicians from different events, adopted by raids of tons of of shisha bars in not less than three components of the nation.


Household and associates pictured praying on February 24, 2020, throughout the funeral of Ferhat Unvar, one of many victims of the mass capturing in Hanau [Thomas Lohnes/Getty Images]

Authorities say the raids are supposed to crack down on crime, as they declare to uncover untaxed shisha tobacco and black cash, amongst different violations.

Critics, nevertheless, argue that the raids and the accompanying media protection feed right into a adverse portrayal of shisha bar tradition and those that go there. 

“The raids are disproportionate, costly and stigmatising,” Jorinde Schulz, a member of the Die Linke (the Left Celebration), informed Al Jazeera.

Whereas there are not any official statistics on what number of shisha bars have been raided, there have been 382 raids on varied institutions, together with shisha bars and betting outlets, throughout the capital Berlin final 12 months. 

Residents in Neukolln, a district in southeast Berlin which is house to a big ethnic minority and migrant inhabitants, informed Al Jazeera that shisha bars of their space have been focused, with little proof of large-scale felony exercise rising.

Official paperwork present that in lots of the Neukolln raids, solely small quantities of medication or smaller offences resembling underaged bar-goers, had been recorded.

We’re calling on authorities to concentrate on the depth of the issue and cope with the racism and far-right components inside politics, the police and different establishments.

Seda Ardal, group activist

Schulz, who lives in Neukolln, stated: “While we understand there are some structures of organised crime that need to be dealt with, we are questioning this narrative that any shisha bar is a hotspot for criminal activity. The extent of these crimes and the way it’s been talked about by politicians and parts of the media has been exaggerated and demonising, and has resulted in massive raids – in some cases with more than 300 officers – at many shisha bars and the police harassment of owners and customers.”

Schulz and different locals, together with those that have been caught up within the raids, just lately shaped an initiative referred to as Kein Generalverdacht (No Normal Suspicion) to boost consciousness in regards to the impact of the raids, and to place strain on authorities to alter their technique.

It’s a name, they are saying, that has grown extra pressing for the reason that killings in Hanau. 

“What happened in Hanau was shocking,” Schulz stated. “We hadn’t thought one thing like this could occur however we had been additionally probably not shocked that it did. We now have been closely criticised for drawing the connection however we now know that within the context of right-wing terrorism it is not nearly who did it, it is also about what pictures of sure areas or sure communities are painted.

“Racist campaigns like the ‘clan debate’ mark potential targets for attacks. So for us, the connection is very clear.”

They are saying the raids have an effect on native enterprise house owners economically and characterize an assault on social areas for individuals who might really feel uncomfortable or unwelcome elsewhere resembling golf equipment and bars.


Individuals collect in entrance of the Enviornment Bar and Cafe to commemorate the victims of the capturing [File: Thomas Lohnes/Getty Images]

As Ardal says: “I’ve been going to shisha bars since I used to be a teen. It is a area the place I really feel linked to my tradition and the individuals who go there are both of the identical cultural background as me, or if they don’t seem to be, we all know they’re individuals who settle for us and respect our heritage. However there are loads of prejudices in opposition to shisha bar tradition and it is primarily based on worry.

“They criminalise these places because they have no idea what is going on.”

Regardless of the rising calls to alter their technique, authorities informed Al Jazeera that the measures will proceed.

A Berlin Inside Ministry spokesperson stated: “The high number of legal violations found during the controls [raids] shows that the phenomenon can only be countered by maintaining the control pressure and consistently punishing even minor violations in order to enforce compliance with the legal system and social rules.”

Continuities of violence 

On Might 8, as Berlin marked 75 years for the reason that defeat of the Nazis with a one-off vacation, those that proceed to be affected by far-right violence gathered for a socially-distanced protest in Neukolln below the banner “from Moria to Hanau”.

Different current far-right assaults in Germany embody the October 2019 killings of two individuals close to a synagogue in west Germany, and the June 2019 homicide of a pro-refugee politician at his house in Wolfhagen.

On the Might Eight occasion, authorities had been accused of failing to correctly examine the Nationwide Socialist Underground (NSU) killings – wherein 9 individuals with minority backgrounds had been murdered by neo-Nazis within the 2000s – amid allegations of structural racism.

Worldwide Ladies’s House, a Berlin-based feminist migrant and refugee rights group, was one of many teams concerned within the demonstration.

A spokeswoman informed Al Jazeera: “What we see from the NSU killings to Hanau is a continuity of racist violence and the failure of the state to have a look at the broader networks. Authorities deal with right-wing violence as one thing which is coming from right-wing excessive organisations. That is not true, it is also coming from the center of society. And it’s not solely primarily based in right-wing ideology, but additionally in racism and migration coverage.”


Mourners lay down flowers and lightweight candles on the inspiration of the Brothers-Grimm-Monument to commemorate the victims of the right-wing assault [File: Maximilian von Lachner/EPA]

These remembering the Hanau victims say that the nation should study classes from its troubled previous.

“The big issue with this ‘clan debate’ is that it’s been actively pushed in order to legitimise some political measures, for example, being able to withdraw citizenship from people or being able to deport people,” Schulz, the Neukolln resident, stated.

“Taking away people’s citizenship is one of the first steps the Nazis took against the Jews, so we know what this kind of politics leads to.”

Ardal added: “We’re calling on authorities to concentrate on the depth of the issue and cope with the racism and far-right components inside politics, the police and different establishments. We all the time felt Hanau was protected as a result of it’s a metropolis filled with migrants and minorities.

“We were shook up at first, but now we don’t want to hide and live in fear, and will still go to shisha bars. How can all this be happening in a country that has a history like Germany’s? Germany should be ashamed of its history and it’s really not acting like it is.”


A placard studying The victims weren’t foreigners is pictured close to the Brothers Grimm monument forward of a memorial service for the victims of the shootings in Hanau, Germany, March 4, 2020 [Kai Pfaffenbach/Reuters]

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