by Vijeta Uniyal
While the German political establishment and the activist media are busy detecting microaggressions in their society, the massive number of newcomers may well be macro-transforming the heart of Europe, irreversibly.
With Chancellor Angela Merkel's open door migration policy continuing to fuel a surging crime wave and swelling the ranks of jihadists in Germany, a large number of people took to social media -- not to denounce the open borders policy or radical Islam -- but to protest what are perceived as racist "microaggressions" faced by immigrants and refugees in the country.
Under the hashtag #MeTwo, countless Germans of immigrant descent, refugees and activists shared stories of the "everyday racism" in Germany.
"My Croatia neighbors in Germany treat us as "arabic" Students from Arabia ( we are Tunisians and there is no place called Arabia ). And when i meet her in the building she never smiled and never replied to my greetings as if i did something to her," tweeted a Tunisian girl.
Another had some advice:
Hey, white fellow Germans. If you are sensitive to #metwo, it doesn't mean that People of Color lie or "accuse" us of racism.The movement's founder, Ali Can, told Deutsche Welle, "We need a new definition of being German."
Our entire society is racist. Yeah, me too. Because that's how we were raised. This is not an accusation, it is reality. Change it.
The campaign has been supported by country's state-owned media outlets and politicians.
"Are you tweeting about #metwo? We'd like to feature your experiences on our TV show," the public broadcaster Deutsche Welle asked on Twitter. In an article, Deutsche Welledescribed #MeToo as "a tool to share the tales of everyday racism and prejudice they face in a country unused to its status as an immigration destination."
"Anyone who thinks racism is no longer a problem in Germany should browse through the #MeTwo tweets," tweeted Germany's Foreign Minister Heiko Maas. "It's powerful and painful how many people are speaking out. Let's speak out with them against racism whenever and wherever it occurs."
The Twitter campaign started shortly after German soccer player Mesut Özil announced his decision to resign from the national team after facing public criticism for his well-publicized meeting with Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. It took place ahead of the last month's Turkish election, and was followed by his dismal World Cup performancein Russia.
Özil, born to a Turkish family in Germany, said he was quitting the national team due to the racist attitudes prevalent at the Germany's soccer federation (DFB) and the wider fan base. "I will no longer be playing for Germany at international level whilst I have this feeling of racism and disrespect," he said in a written statement. Germany's state-owned and corporate media -- often seemingly keen on indulging in collective self-flagellation -- fell for the "racism narrative".
"#MeTwo is hoping to be for immigrants and their descendants what #MeToo has been for women," wrote the German public broadcaster Deutsche Welle. "German society's discomfort in discussing race leaves little room for people of color to give voice to their experiences with racism and leaves routine bigotry and latent prejudice to become socially acceptable."
"A young activist launched the hashtag #MeTwo in the wake of the Özil row to launch a long-overdue discussion on racism in Germany," the German business
newspaper Handelsblatt reported.
The #MeTwo movement is about "people, whose voices go unheard, get a chance to speak and turn abstract terms into very tangible, touching testimonies," commented Süddeutsche Zeitung, Germany's largest broadsheet newspaper.
Ali Can, the 25-year-old Turkish-German activist who started the campaign, justified the movement by citing a magazine cover that depicted a camera-toting German tourist juxtaposed with a native tribesman carrying a bow and arrow. The magazine "uses racist-colonial clichés for its cover and reinforces an image of primitive dark-skinned people. This reason is enough to raise voices," said Can.
The campaign is about "PoC" ("people of color") telling "their stories of racism happening to them in their lives in Germany," explained another German activist supporting the #MeTwo hashtag.
A journalist of Pakistani descent born in Germany, Rachel Baig, wrote a long list of the racist discrimination she faced. It included: "Being asked if I am allowed to vote/ have a German passport during elections"" and "Being told by colleagues at work that my German is pretty good for a foreigner," despite her being born there.
Hasnain Kazim, another German-Pakistani journalist and winner of the CNN Journalist Award, complained about one time when a German bus driver closed the door on him.
Those looking for tangible proof of racism within German society by following this hashtag, however, might be in for a disappointment. Most social media postings range from perceived injustices faced by immigrants living in the country to portraying ordinary Germans as racist and bigoted.
The outrage currently being shown by the Germany's politicians and mainstream media over instances of "microaggressions" and perceived maltreatment of foreigners in Germany seems misplaced.
Since Chancellor Angela Merkel opened Germany's borders to mass migration in the spring of 2015, the country has been hit by a wave of violent crimes and terror attacks carried out mainly by immigrants.
Since the onset of the migrant crisis, Germany's official police crime statistics have registered consistent rise in murder, rape and other violent crimes carried out by criminals with migrant background.
Instead of listening to genuine concerns felt by ordinary citizens, the German political establishment rushed to criminalize dissent. Earlier this year, Merkel's government enforced an "anti-hate speech social media law," or the NetzDG law, making Germany the first European country to introduce such a law.
Since Chancellor Angela Merkel (pictured) opened Germany's borders to mass migration in the spring of 2015, the country has been hit by a wave of violent crimes and terror attacks carried out mainly by immigrants. Instead of listening to concerns felt by ordinary citizens, the German political establishment rushed to criminalize dissent. (Photo by Carsten Koall/Getty Images)
In February, when a group of German feminists organized a march in Berlin to raise awareness about the epidemic of violent crimes being committed by migrant men against women, their peaceful march was blocked by protesters, including by lawmakersbelonging to the Die Linke and Green parties.
Marian Wendt, a member of parliament from Chancellor Merkel's CDU party, instead of expressing solidarity with these women, accused the right-wing Alternative for Germany (AfD) party of "provocation and self-affirmation in the presumptive self-victimhood" for having supported the women's march.
Immigrants who tried to challenge the microaggression narrative on social media faced abuse and were told to shut up. A Syrian refugee girl who tried to challenge the trend was attacked for supposedly "Invalidating the real life experiences of others..."
She had written, "As a Syrian in Germany I'm yet to encounter one racist German person," and later tweeted:
"Germany gave me the opportunity to live, to do what i want, to be treated as equal and to explore life without the oppressive patriarchal discriminatory society i was born into looming over me. and for that I'm grateful.One Twitter user suggested that she had evaded racism because she could pass for a white.
Many in Germany are concerned that the influx of migrants might upend the demographyof Europe and ultimately transfigure the West.
According to recent German intelligence reports, in past five years the number of Salafists in the country has doubled, crossing the 10,000-mark for the first time. While the German political establishment and the activist media are busy detecting microaggressions in their society, the massive number of newcomers may well be macro-transforming the heart of Europe, irreversibly.
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Vijeta Uniyal, a journalist analyst based in Germany
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