Call For Newspaper To Apologize
The current conflict between Israel and Hamas in Gaza led to pro-Palestinian demonstrations across Europe. Some of these demonstrations included anti-Semitic chants, which prompted the foreign ministers of Germany, France and Italy to issue a joint statement from Brussels about 10 days ago condemning anti-semitic “acts and statements”. About a week later, an anti-Islamic comment piece was published in Bild am Sonntag, Germany’s biggest-selling newspaper. The piece was quickly condemned as racist and led to calls for the newspaper to apologize to the estimated 4.3 million Muslims in Germany.
The Racist Comments
The comment piece had been written by the tabloid newspaper’s vice-editor Nicolaus Fest. He had accused Islam of a “murderous contempt for women and homosexuals”, of being “a barrier to integration”, a point that should be considered in assessing claims for asylum and visa applications to Germany. He also wrote, “I don’t believe in God, but at the same time Christianity, Judaism or Buddhism don’t bother me. Only Islam bothers me more and more”. The features that bothered Nicolaus Fest included the “disproportionate criminality of youths from Muslim backgrounds”, forced marriages, and honor killings. The piece was shared more than 9700 times overnight on social media.
The Newspaper’s Response
Bild am Sonntag’s editor-in-chief Kai Diekmann responded immediately with an editorial posted online saying that there was an “unshakeable dividing line between Islam as a world religion and the degrading ideology of Islamism”. He went on to explain, “That’s why in Bild and Axel Springer [the publishing house to which Bild belongs] there is no room for generalized, depreciating [sic] comments against Islam and the people who believe in Allah”. However, there was no outright apology for the vice-editor’s comments.
Race Relations In Germany
Anti-racist laws in Germany forbid incitement to racial hatred, and the German media had expressed shock at the tone of the anti-Israel chants at some of the demonstrations. However, by last week the spokesman for Chancellor Angela Merkel told a news conference that “The chancellor and the government are happy to see the revival of Jewish life in Germany and will continue to campaign for the security of Jewish citizens”.
Think About It
Are negative comments about racial or religious groups a big factor in racial or religious discrimination and disharmony? Should negative comments of the type expressed in the commentary have been published? If not, was Bild’s response to the criticisms of racism adequate?