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RACISM

Memorial of Norwegian teen killed in 2001 racist attack vandalised

A memorial to a teenage boy murdered in a racist attack was on Tuesday vandalised with the message 'Brevik was right', two days before the tenth anniversary of the July 22nd terror attacks in Norway.

Memorial of Norwegian teen killed in 2001 racist attack vandalised
Police tape. Photo by Søren Storm Hansen/Flickr

Police in Oslo have launched an investigation after the memorial to Benjamin Hermansen, who was murdered by three members of the neo-Nazi group The Boot Boys in a racially motivated attack in 2001, was found to have been vandalised. 

The statue of Hermansen, who was 15 when he was killed, was vandalised with the message “Brevik was right”, a reference to the July 22nd terror attacks carried out by far-right extremist Anders Behring Breivik in 2011. 

The vandalism was discovered by Johannes Dvorak Lagos in Holmlia, Oslo, while on a walk near his home at midday Tuesday. 

Lagos posted a picture of the vandalism to Twitter, describing it as “reprehensible”. 

The graffiti was discovered two days before the tenth anniversary of the July 22nd terror attacks, in which 77 people were killed. 

Brevik carried out two separate attacks on July 22nd, a bomb in Oslo aimed at killing then Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg and a mass shooting at the AUF youth camp on Utøya island. 

Prime Minister Erna Solberg and Labour Leader Jonas Gahr Støre have both condemned the incident. 

“It is absolutely awful to see that the Benjamin Hermansen memorial at Homlia has been vandalised just before July 22nd. It makes me sad and furious, and this shows how important it is that we stand up to racism and hate speech every single day,” Solberg said in a tweet

“Benjamin’s memorial has been vandalised with references to the July 22nd terrorist. On the same day as the Eid celebrations begin. It’s reprehensible, and it shows that dangerous attitudes still circulate among us. The police have to take this seriously, and together we have to speak out and oppose this type of behaviour,” Labour Leader Støre wrote on Twitter

The incident is being investigated as a hate crime in addition to vandalism, police said. 

“The Oslo Police district is taking the case very seriously, and an investigation has been established. The investigation will also include the penal provisions for hate crime,” law enforcement said in a statement. 

Raymond Johansen, Oslo’s executive mayor, said that right-wing extremism needs to be addressed. 

“The person or persons who have done this have the same mindset as the neo-Nazis who killed Benjamin and the attitudes behind July 22nd. This shows that there is a need to discuss these attitudes,” Johansen told newspaper VG

The graffiti was removed by 1:30 pm on Tuesday. 

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RACISM

Black people in Germany face ‘widespread’ racism, survey finds

In the Afrocensus, a first-of-its-kind survey charting the lived experiences of black people in Germany, the vast majority revealed they experienced 'extensive' discrimination in almost all aspects of public life.

Dr Karamba Diaby
Dr Karamba Diaby, an SPD politician and anti-racism advocate, carries out voluntary work in his constituency of Halle, Saxony-Anhalt. Photo: picture alliance/dpa/dpa-Zentralbild | Hendrik Schmidt

“The results of the Afrocensus indicate that anti-Black racism is widespread in Germany and anchored in institutions,” the authors of the new report said in a press release on Tuesday. “There is no area of life in which discrimination and racism are not extensive problems.”

Though the overwhelming majority of respondents said they had experienced discrimination at least ‘sometimes’ in almost all areas of life, housing was the area where they said they were discriminated against most often.

Just two percent of respondents to the Afrocensus said they had ‘rarely’ or ‘never’ experienced racism in the housing market, compared to more than 90 percent who said they had experienced it ‘often’ or ‘very often’.

READ ALSO: ‘Black lives need to matter in Germany’ New project to uncover racism in everyday life

Experiences with police and security personnel also counted among areas of life where racism was particularly prevalent: 88 percent of respondents had experienced discrimination from security staff ‘often’ or ‘very often’, while around 85 percent had had the same experience with police.

More than 85 percent had also experienced racism in their education or in the workplace ‘often’ or ‘very often’ in Germany. One in seven had lost their job during the Covid crisis. 

According to the report, 90 percent of respondents had also experienced having their hair grabbed, while more than half (56 percent) had been stopped by the police or asked for drugs by strangers.

Meanwhile, 80 percent said people had made comments about the colour of their skin or sexualised comments about their race on dating apps. A vast majority – 90 percent – also revealed they hadn’t been believed when they’d spoken out about racism in the past, or that people had said they were “too sensitive”. 

READ ALSO: OPINION: My experiences of everyday racism in Germany

In spite of widespread discrimination, almost half (47 percent) of the respondents were engaged and active in their community – mostly carrying out some form of social or voluntary work.

First of its kind

Based on wide-ranging data, the findings paint a vivid and concerning picture of what life is like for the one million or so black people living in Germany today.

To produce the report, researchers from Berlin-based Black community group Each One Teach One and Citizens for Europe conducted an extended survey of 6,000 black people from the Africans and Afrodiasporic community to try and discover more about on the everyday lives and experiences of this group. The survey was carried out between July and September 2020. 

It represents one of the first attempts to gather a wealth of quantitative data on this subject, and as such offers some of the first truly scientific insights into anti-Black racism in modern Germany.

“With the Afrocensus, we have succeeded in doing exactly what has long been demanded within the black community for a long time: making the realities of our lives visible within the framework of qualitative, but above all quantitative research,” Dr. Pierrette Herzberger-Fofana und Dr. Karamba Diaby wrote in a foreword to the report. 

Diaby, a high-profile politician within the centre-left SPD party, was one of only two Afro-German politicians in parliament when he first took his seat in 2013. He has since become known for promoting political engagement and empowerment within the migrant and black community. 

In January 2020, an unknown gunman fired shots through the window of his constituency office in Halle, Saxony-Anhalt, in a suspected racially motivated attack. 

READ ALSO: How people with migrant backgrounds remain underrepresented in German politics

Since the Second World War, Germany has avoided gathering data that allows people to be traced by ethnicity as a means of protecting persecuted groups.

However, critics say this approach only works to make the issues faced by these groups invisible. 

Writing on Twitter, Daniel Gyamerah, Division Lead at Citizens For Europe, called for an “action plan for tackling anti-Black racism and for empowering black, African and Afrodiasporic people” and the establishment of advice centres for people facing racism and discrimination.

More research into the intersectional experience of black people in Germany is needed, he added. 

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