Diversity in the Bundestag

Dramatic change:

When it comes to diversity in the Bundestag, last year’s federal elections in Germany produced the most diverse parliament in the country’s history. The 2021-2025 Bundestag contains a record number (83) of parliamentarians from migrant communities – legislators who are not, or have at least one parent who is not, a German citizen. Moreover, over a third (35%) of legislators are now women, including the legislature’s two first openly transgender lawmakers.

Meanwhile, and for only the third time in its history, the presidency of the Bundestag is also filled by a woman – the Social Democratic Party of Germany’s (SPD) Bärbel Bas, assisted by four female Vice-Presidents from across the political spectrum. Newly inducted Chancellor Olaf Scholz will also preside over Germany’s first gender-balanced cabinet.

This increase in diversity is largely due to a jump in votes for the SPD and the Greens, two of Germany’s most diverse parliamentary parties. Both have gender quotas for candidate selection, with over half of the Greens’ parliamentary party, and over 40% of SPD legislators, being women. The SPD (9.8%) and the Greens (14.9%) also have a greater proportion of candidates from migrant backgrounds than the CDU/CSU (2.9%).

Following the successful coalition talks between the SPD, the Greens and the Liberals, it appears that a more diverse set of legislators will wield power than ever before.

Intuitively, the Bundestag’s greater diversity is to be welcomed. A parliament which better reflects the society it purports to represent fulfils the criteria of descriptive representation: the country’s population is more accurately reflected in the makeup of its legislature.

This symbolic representation can not only engender legitimacy but can also reduce feelings of alienation amongst otherwise marginalised groups.

Given increased rates of misogynist violence, crimes against LGBTQ+ people, and ethnic discrimination in Germany, the greater visibility of minorities in mainstream politics may provide reassurance to those communities that feel vulnerable.

But what about the implications of greater descriptive representation for parliament’s substantive work? Symbolic representation certainly does have its benefits but alone is insufficient.

To be well represented, marginalized and vulnerable groups need parliamentarians to advocate for their interests, transform political agendas, and influence political debate.

There is clear evidence that minority legislators feel a sense of responsibility to do so, be that by asking parliamentary questions, scrutinising legislation, or proposing bills. In Germany, there is certainly legislation which could better reflect the needs and lived experience of minority groups.

Angela Merkel’s National Action Plan, designed to facilitate the integration of refugees and asylum seekers into German society after 2015, focused heavily on language classes and employment as a means of assimilation, and has beencriticised for its failure to combat negative perceptions of, and attitudes towards, immigrant communities.

Similarly, calls for reform to the German law on Self-ID, which currently subjects individuals to large fees and invasive psychological assessment, have to date failed to catch legislators’ attention. The election of two trans representatives may, at a minimum, raise awareness of the issue, and even inform the thinking of governing parties.

Indeed, preliminary evidence seems promising. The Government’s newly minted coalition agreement proposes fundamental change to self-ID laws, and compensation for trans people forced to undergo sterilization in order to legally change their gender identity. Sven Lehmann, a Green MdB, has also been appointed as a government commissioner on gender and sexual diversity, working on LGBTQ+ issues across government departments.

The Government has also committed to introducing a comprehensive strategy (and additional funding) to combat violence against women, and to reforming the asylum process to be more simple, fair, and protective of vulnerable populations.

However, though coalition ministers are supportive, there may still be some limits to the extent to which legislators are able to amend legislation, and actively represent minority groups.

For one thing, although the diversity of the Bundestag increased in 2021, the bar was relatively low to begin with. The share of female legislators is up by just three percent from 2017, and the number of representatives who are female, LGBTQ+, or belong to migrant communities is still low in comparison to the wider population.

For example, only 11.3% of legislators hail from migrant communities, with the largest – Germany’s Turkish community – still vastly underrepresented.

Second, wider societal attitudes are not necessarily conducive to change. As in many other European countries, whilst German attitudes towards LGBTQ+ communities and gender equality are relatively liberal, debate around issues such as gender identity, race, multiculturalism and discrimination is increasingly polarised.

This had led to an increasingly hostile political environment for minority candidates, which is unlikely to encourage political engagement.

Tareq Alaows, a Syrian refugee, campaigned for the Greens in September’s elections on a platform of immigration reform in the hope of becoming the first Syrian immigrant in the Bundestag. However, he was forced to step down after facing a torrent of racial abuse.

A recent study has also found that the 2021 German election campaign was rife with disinformation and conspiracy campaigns which specifically targeted female candidates. Nine in ten female MPs have received correspondence containing misogynistic hate speech and threats.

Third is the question of party politics. Not only are the public increasingly at odds on social issues, but parties are too.

Germany’s three coalition parties may be in step on social issues, but polling ahead of the 2021 election showed a large partisan divide between CDU/CSU candidates and their colleagues from other parties on issues such as migration, or the need to take explicit action to tackle racism and discrimination.

Consequently, although the CDU’s dominance may have faltered in this election, there will still be a substantial bloc of legislators ready to block substantive action on diversity from Government or fellow legislators. In the absence of support from conservatives, parliamentarians’ ability to bring about real legislative change, or shift the attitudes of the wider electorate, may be constrained.

The 2021 session of the Bundestag will be one of its most inclusive. A change in the makeup of parliament, and a more diverse, supportive governing coalition, could mean substantive action on issues such as immigration, self-ID, and misogyny. Such action, however, may be limited.

Illiberal public attitudes, inter-party disputes, and the continued relative lack of lawmakers from minority backgrounds pose formidable hurdles to establishing a distinctive legislative agenda.

There’s a real danger, therefore, that the impact of the Bundestag’s increased diversity may end up being largely symbolic, rather than inspiring tangible change.

Source: Diversity in the Bundestag

Germany’s new leader has a plan for the migrant crisis

Of note:

When Olaf Scholz made his first major speech as German chancellor in mid-December, it was closely watched for signs of how he would continue Angela Merkel’s successes – and how he would fix her mistakes.

Scholz focused mainly on his priorities for the pandemic and climate change, as might be expected given the continued discovery of new Covid-19 variants and his center-left coalition.

But almost unremarked was a small but far-reaching change, designed to solve one of the most taxing of German problems – what to do about the large number of refugees inside the country. The issue is still a source of controversy among Germans over whether it counts as a success or a failure of the Merkel years. In outlining his new approach, Scholz said Germany would for the first time allow dual citizenship.

Source: Germany’s new leader has a plan for the migrant crisis

Germany to open up more to migrants under new coalition

Significant changes:

Germany’s incoming government plansto improve asylum seekers’ rights, facilitate immigration for skilled workers, and simplify the process of acquiring German nationality.

Immigration was a defining issue of Germany’s 2017 election campaign after Chancellor Angela Merkel’s decision to open the door to hundreds of thousands of Syrian refugees in 2015.

Although it was not one of the main issues in this year’s election, it has moved up the political agenda again as thousands of migrants have tried to enter the European Union via Belarus in recent weeks.

A coalition deal agreed by the Social Democrats, Greens and Free Democrats (FDP) said the new government planned to make Germany a more appealing destination for migrants, while making life easier for asylum seekers who are willing to integrate

The alliance also agreed to introduce a law to make multiple citizenship possible. Becoming a German citizen generally requires a person to give up any other passports, though there are exemptions, including for citizens of other EU countries.

“As a rule, naturalization should be possible after five years, with special integration achievements after three years,” the document said. That compares to eight years and six years respectively at the moment

‘GUEST WORKERS’

The new law will grant children born in Germany to foreign parents German citizenship if one of the parents has been legally residing in Germany for five years.

The law targets Germany’s ‘guest-worker’ generation of migrants, who came from southern Europe and Turkey in the 1960s and 1970s and contributed to the postwar “economic miracle”.

Some could not be naturalized even after living in Germany for decades due to language requirements or because they did not want to give up their original citizenship.

The wording of a controversial naturalization prerequisite of “living according to German life style” will be replaced with clearer criteria in the new law.

Keen to tackle a shortage of skilled workers that has held back economic recovery, Germany’s new government will improve access to study and apprenticeship for foreigners. Visa processing will also be simplified.

Asylum seekers with temporary status will be able to obtain more secure residency and bring in their families after four to six years if they integrate well.

Guenter Burkhardt, managing director of PRO ASYL refugee rights group, welcomed the deal but said more was needed to improve asylum seekers’ rights.

“Deportations to war and crisis areas are not clearly excluded,” he said.

Source: Germany to open up more to migrants under new coalition

German election: Are immigrant voters ignored?

Of interest. Sharp contrast with Canada:

Over 60 million people are eligible to vote in Germany’s general election on September 26. But one group is often overlooked by politicians and parties: voters with an immigrant background, many of whom have roots in Turkey, Syria, or the former Soviet Union. That group comprises some 7.4 million voters, a full 12% of the electorate.

Although that number is considerable, this group of voters is rarely addressed directly, says social scientist Sabrina Mayer.She is currently working on a study on people with a migration background in Duisburg, a multicultural city in North Rhine-Westphalia, Germany’s most populous state. She drives around the city a lot, she says, and is a little surprised “that in such a city, people with a migration background are so rarely addressed directly with topics on campaign posters.”

This could be one reason for the low turnout among people with a migrant background. In the last federal election in 2017, this was around 20% below the average. This  phenomenon can become a vicious cycle, says Mayer: “If a group does not feel addressed, then they vote less often, and so the incentive for the parties to take up the issues is reduced, which is why the turnout continues to fall.”

Getting people to the polls is a problem that social activist Ali Can knows very well. The initiator of the Twitter hashtag #MeTwo, which is supposed to draw attention to discrimination, was born in Turkey, is of Kurdish origin, and fled to Germany with his family in 1995. Can is also fighting for a higher electoral turnout among people with immigrant roots.

One project he launched for the parliamentary elections is a multilingual electoral assistance app. “In the 21st century, getting help to vote should not have any barriers,” he told DW. But alongside providing information about the voting procedure and the candidates, getting people to the polls calls for a multifaceted approach that appeals to people’s emotions. “We have failed to give people with a migration background the feeling that they also belong in Germany,” he said.

Little scientific data

Little is known about which migrant groups vote which party and why. Targeted studies would be necessary to gather a clearer picture, but they cost money and then often only include the largest migrant groups.

The Konrad-Adenauer-Stiftung (KAS) is a German political foundation affiliated with Merkel’s ruling Christian Democrats (CDU, which holds power with its Bavarian sister party, the Christian Social Union (CSU). The KAS foundation carried out two such studies, in 2015 and 2019, with a focus on the three largest migrant groups in Germany. These are people with Turkish (2.8 million), Russian (1.4 million), and Polish (2.2 million) migration backgrounds.

Few parties directly address immigrant voters with their election posters

In two groups, the result remained relatively constant for a long time, according to one of the studies: “Persons arriving more recently from Russia voted above averagely often for the CDU and CSU; people of Turkish origin for the Social Democrats (SPD).” For a few years now, however, “fixed patterns” have been weakening, and instead, there is a “high degree of mobility across political party lines.” The studies show that many of those who were of Russian origin and who were eligible to vote migrated from the center-right CDU/CSU to the far-right Alternative for Germany (AfD); those of Turkish origin no longer remained loyal to the center-left SPD, but instead more often voted for the CDU/CSU. When it came to Germany’s large Polish community, the Green Party benefited from the shift in voter loyalty.

A good sign for democracy

This new mobility at the ballot box should be seen as a sign of “normalization,” say the KAS foundation researchers. After all, mobility in elections has increased in general, including in the rest of the German population. Mayer also sees it this way: “Party loyalty is declining, decisions are made based on topics and what appeals to individuals is what counts, instead of people just voting as a bloc for a party that has always been associated with their own group.”

But the parties do not seem to want to take advantage of this opportunity. “People with a migration background represent a considerable electoral potential for political parties,” according to the organization “Citizens For Europe.” However, that is on the condition “that they adapt what they’re offering and their political platform to the increasingly diverse electorate.” In many cases, according to the Mediendienst Integration, a press service focusing on migration and integration issues, many of the topics that matter most to immigrants are ignored by politicians.

Infografik Ausländische Bevölkerung Deutschland EN

Even if eligible voters with non-German roots are taken into account, there are nearly as many people living in Germany who are of voting age but totally shut out of the electoral process: those with a foreign background who are not allowed to vote here because they do not have German citizenship. That’s 8.7 million people.

Having more representation of people with international backgrounds among the political class, for example, could counteract this. But for now they remain rare in Germany’s parliament, the Bundestag: Only 58 of its 709 members have non-German roots.

Source: German election: Are immigrant voters ignored?

Germany passes new #citizenship law for descendants of Nazi victims

Of note:

German lawmakers have approved changes that will make it easier for descendants of those who fled Nazi persecution to obtain citizenship.

Under German law, people stripped of their citizenship on political, racial or religious grounds can have it restored, and so can their descendants.

But legal loopholes had prevented many people from benefiting.

Campaigners say the move allow many to reconnect with their German heritage, particularly in the Jewish community.

“We acknowledge the work that the German people have undertaken to honour the memory of those lost and those who suffered in the [Holocaust],” said Felix Couchman, chair of the Article 116 Exclusions Group, which has been lobbying on the issue for years.

“These measures have been necessary stepping stones to rebuilding trust,” he added.

While Germany’s post-war constitution allows citizenship to be restored, the lack of a legal framework meant many people had their applications rejected.

Some were denied because their ancestors had taken another nationality before their citizenship was revoked.

For others it was because they were born to a German mother, but not a German father. Until a change to the law in 1953, German citizenship could only be passed on paternally.

A legal decree was passed in 2019 to help close these loopholes. Now that it has passed the lower house of Germany’s Bundestag, with a large majority, prospective applicants will have a firmer legal footing for their appeal.

The law does also cover those who were directly deprived of their citizenship but, given the passage of time, descendants will be the main beneficiaries.

The new law also bars the naturalisation of people convicted of racist, anti-Semitic or xenophobic acts.

“This is not just about putting things right, it is about apologising in profound shame,” said Interior Minister Horst Seehofer in March, when the government passed the draft law.

“It is a huge fortune for our country if people want to become German, despite the fact that we took everything from their ancestors.”

The move comes as neighbouring Poland comes under the spotlight for a draft law which critics say would make it harder for Jews to recover property seized by Nazi occupiers during World War Two.

The bill, passed by Poland’s lower parliamentary house on Thursday, has been condemned by the US and Israel.

Source: Germany passes new citizenship law for descendants of Nazi victims

Germany recognizes colonial killings in Namibia as genocide

Of note:

Germany has reached an agreement with Namibia that will see it officially recognize as genocide the colonial-era killings of tens of thousands of people and commit to spending a total of 1.1 billion euros ($1.3 billion), largely on development projects.

The accord announced Friday is the result of more than five years of talks with Namibia on the events of 1904-1908, when Germany was the southern African country’s colonial ruler.

Historians say German Gen. Lothar von Trotha, who was sent to what was then German South West Africa to put down an uprising by the Herero people in 1904, instructed his troops to wipe out the entire tribe. They say that about 65,000 Herero were killed and at least 10,000 Nama.

“In the light of Germany’s historical and moral responsibility, we will ask Namibia and the descendants of the victims for forgiveness,” German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas said in a statement.

“Our aim was and is to find a joint path to genuine reconciliation in remembrance of the victims,” he said. “That includes our naming the events of the German colonial era in today’s Namibia, and particularly the atrocities between 1904 and 1908, unsparingly and without euphemisms.”

“We will now officially call these events what they were from today’s perspective: a genocide.”

Talks between Germany and Namibia opened in 2015, more than a decade after a 2004 visit to Namibia in which then-Development Minister Heidemarie Wieczorek-Zeul offered Germany’s first apology for the killings, which she said were “what today would be labeled as genocide.”

Maas said that, “as a gesture of recognition of the incalculable suffering,” Germany plans to support Namibia and the descendants of the victims with a 1.1 billion-euro “rebuilding and development” program in whose design and implementation “the communities affected by the genocide will take a decisive role.”

At the same time, he said that “legal claims to compensation cannot be derived from this.”

That reflects Germany’s position that the Genocide Convention of 1948 can’t be applied retroactively, and that its liability is political and moral rather than legal.

The projects Germany will now fund are expected to stretch over a 30-year period and will cover areas such as land reform, including land purchases, agriculture, rural infrastructure, water supply and vocational training. They will be separate from continuing development aid to Namibia.

Germany says that representatives of the Herero and Nama were involved in the negotiations, though Berlin’s direct dealings have been with the Namibian government.

Germany gained control of the desert country in the 1880s and surrendered the territory to South Africa in 1915. Namibia gained independence in 1990.

Source: Germany recognizes colonial killings in Namibia as genocide

Alarm as German anti-maskers co-opt Nazi resister Sophie Scholl

Of note:

Sophie Scholl, the German resistance figure executed by the Nazis who was born 100 years ago on Sunday, has become an emblem of courage and a national hero for many.

But the legacy of the young woman sentenced to a brutal death for distributing anti-Nazi pamphlets has recently been co-opted by Germany’s anti-lockdown movement, to the dismay of historians and the Jewish community.

At a demonstration in April, one woman had a placard featuring a picture of Sophie Scholl draped on string around her shoulders.

“The real damage is done by those millions who want to ‘survive.’ The honest men who just want to be left in peace,” it read — words famously pronounced by the resistance campaigner.

Even one of her nephews, Julian Aicher, has prominently spoken at corona skeptic demonstrations, including on a stage decorated with white roses — evoking the name of Scholl’s resistance group.

In a country where right-wing extremism is seen as the number one threat to security, and where a record number of xenophobic and anti-Semitic crimes were recorded in 2020, historians say the misappropriation of Scholl’s memory is deeply alarming.

Some also warn that democracy itself is being attacked at a time when living witnesses of World War II have dwindled significantly in numbers.

“By trivialising the Holocaust and dictatorship, these activists are endangering democracy,” said Ludwig Spaenle, Bavaria’s anti-Semitism commissioner.

– Fourth favourite German –

On February 22, 1943, Scholl and her older brother Hans, both members of a small resistance group called the White Rose, were beheaded in the Stadelheim prison in Bavaria following a summary trial.

They had been found guilty of distributing pamphlets on the grounds of Munich University, having converted to the resistance after being exposed to the horrors of the Third Reich as members of Nazi organisations in their teens.

Sophie Scholl, born on May 9, 1921, has become the most famous face of the resistance movement, with surviving photos showing her distinctive cropped hair and determined smile.

Hundreds of schools and streets now bear her name, and in 2003 she was named the nation’s fourth favourite German behind Konrad Adenauer, Martin Luther and Karl Marx.

The country’s political class also like to evoke the memory of the young biology student who stood up to the Nazis.

Annalena Baerbock, the Green party’s candidate to become Germany’s next chancellor after Angela Merkel retires in the autumn, has named Scholl as one of her “heroes”.

Carola Rackete, the former captain of the Sea-Watch 3 migrant rescue ship, has said if Scholl were still alive, she would be part of the Antifa left-wing political movement.

But at the other end of the political spectrum, the far-right AfD also claimed in 2017 that Scholl would have given them her vote.

And now the resistance campaigner’s image has been hijacked by protesters against coronavirus restrictions in Germany, who have often sought to compare themselves with victims of the Nazis.

– ‘Vaccination makes you free’ –

Some protesters have been seen wearing yellow stars similar to those Jews were forced to wear under the Nazis, carrying the words “not vaccinated”.

Others have worn concentration camp uniforms and carried placards with the words “Impfen macht frei” (“Vaccination makes you free”), a reference to the “Arbeit macht frei” (“Work makes you free”) inscription at the entrance to Auschwitz.

“I feel like Sophie Scholl, because I’ve been active in the resistance for months,” one protester told a rally against virus restrictions in Hanover in November, leading to widespread condemnation.

“Followers of conspiracy theories like to imagine themselves as victims, while demonising and delegitimising the democratic field,” Samuel Salzborn, the city of Berlin’s point man on anti-Semitism, told AFP.

According to Jens-Christian Wagner, a German historian who specialises in the Nazi era, the appropriation of Sophie Scholl by the anti-mask movement shows a loss of “historical awareness” among parts of the German population.

There are “almost no remaining witnesses” to the Nazi era, Wagner told AFP.

“They can no longer defend themselves when they are instrumentalised or when the far right rewrites history and the present by reversing guilt. It worries me,” he said.

Germany’s domestic intelligence agency has said it will monitor the “Querdenker” (Lateral Thinkers) movement, a particularly vocal anti-lockdown group, over concerns it poses a threat to democracy and has ties to right-wing extremism.

Source: Alarm as German anti-maskers co-opt Nazi resister Sophie Scholl

The ‘hijab penalty’: Feminist backlash to Muslim immigrants in Germany | Penn Today

Of note. Interesting experiment:

Why do some Europeans discriminate against Muslim immigrants, and how can these instances of prejudice be reduced? Political scientist Nicholas Sambanis has spent the last few years looking into this question by conducting innovative studies at train stations across Germany involving willing participants, unknowing bystanders and, most recently, bags of lemons.

His newest study, co-authored with Donghyun Danny Choi at the University of Pittsburgh and Mathias Poertner at Texas A&M University, is forthcoming in the American Journal of Political Scienceand finds evidence of significant discrimination against Muslim women during everyday interactions with native Germans. That evidence comes from experimental interventions set up on train platforms across dozens of German cities and reveals that discrimination by German women is due to their beliefs that Muslims are regressive with respect to women’s rights. In effect, their experiment finds a feminist opposition to Muslims, and shows that discrimination is eliminated when Muslim women signaled that they shared progressive gender attitudes, says Sambanis, who directs the Penn Identity and Conflict Lab (PIC Lab), which he founded when he came to Penn in 2016.

Many studies in psychology have shown bias and discrimination are rooted in a sense that ethnic, racial, or religious differences create distance between citizens, he says. “Faced with waves of immigration from culturally different populations, many Europeans are increasingly supporting policies of coercive assimilation that eliminate those sources of difference by suppressing ethnic or religious marker, for example, by banning the hijab in public places or forcing immigrants to attend language classes,” Sambanis says. “Our research shows that bias and discrimination can be reduced via far less coercive measures—as long as immigration does not threaten core values that define the social identities of native populations.”

“The Hijab Penalty: Feminist Backlash to Muslim Immigrants” is the fourth study in a multiyear project on the topic of how to reduce prejudice against immigrants conducted by Sambanis and the team. The study’s co-authors, Choi and Poertner, started working on this project as postdoctoral fellows at the PIC Lab.

The new paper builds on the first leg of the project which was publishedin the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences in 2019 and which explored whether discrimination against immigrants is reduced when immigrants show that they share civic norms that are valued by native citizens. That study found evidence that shared norms reduce but do not eliminate discrimination. The new study explores the impact of norms and ideas that are important to particular subgroups of the native population, and finds stronger effects when such norms are shared by immigrants.

The findings have implications for how to think about reducing conflict between native and immigrant communities in an era of increased cross-border migration, Sambanis says.

He and his co-authors conducted the large-scale field experiment in 25 cities across Germany involving more than 3,700 unknowing bystanders.

“Germany was a good case study because it has received the largest number of asylum applications in Europe since 2015, a result of the refugee crisis created by wars in Syria and other countries in the Middle East and Central Asia,” Sambanis says. “Germany has had a long history of immigration from Muslim countries since the early post-war period, and anti-immigrant sentiments have been high as a result of cultural differences. These differences are manipulated politically and become more salient.”

The intervention went like this: A woman involved in the study approached a bench at a train station where bystanders waited and drew their attention by asking them if they knew if she could buy tickets on the train.

She then received a phone call and audibly conversed with the caller in German regarding her sister, who was considering whether to take a job or stay at home and take care of her husband and her kids. The scripted conversation revealed the woman’s position on whether her sister has the right to work or a duty to stay at home to care for the family.

At the end of the phone call, a bag she was holding seemingly tears, making her drop a bunch of lemons, which scatter on the platform and she appeared to need help gathering them.

In the final step, team members who were not a part of the intervention observed and recorded whether each bystander who was within earshot of the phone call helped the women collect the lemons.

They experimentally varied the identity of the woman, who was sometimes a native German or an immigrant from the Middle East; and the immigrant sometimes wore a hijab to signal her Muslim identity and sometimes not.

They found that men were not very receptive to different messages regarding the woman’s attitude toward gender equality, but German women were. Among German women, anti-Muslim discrimination was eliminated when the immigrant woman signaled that she held progressive views vis-à-vis women’s rights. Men continued to discriminate in both the regressive and progressive conditions of the experiment.

It was a surprise that the experimental treatment did not seem to make a big difference in the behavior of men towards Muslim women.

“Women were very receptive to this message that we had about Muslims sharing progressive beliefs about women’s rights, but men were indifferent to it,” says Sambanis. “We expected that there would be a difference, and that the effect of the treatment would be larger among women, but we did not expect that it would be basically zero for men.”

The experiment makes gender identity more salient and establishes a common identity between native German women—most of whom share progressive views on gender—and the immigrant women in the progressive condition. This is the basis of the reduction of discrimination, Sambanis says, and it does not require coercive measures like forcing Muslims to take off the hijab. “You can overcome discrimination in other ways, but it is important to signal that that the two groups share a common set of norms and ideas that define appropriate civic behaviors.”

The results are surprising from the perspective of the prior literature, which assumed that it is very hard for people to overcome barriers created by race, religion, and ethnicity. At the same time, this experiment speaks to the limits of multiculturalism, says Sambanis. “Our work shows that differences in ethnic, racial, or linguistic traits can be overcome, but citizens will resist abandoning longstanding norms and ideas that define their identities in favor of a liberal accommodation of the values of others,” he says.

Nicholas Sambanis is a Presidential Distinguished Professor in the School of Arts & Sciences, chair of the Department of Political Science, and director of the Penn Identity and Conflict Lab at the University of Pennsylvania.

Source: The ‘hijab penalty’: Feminist backlash to Muslim immigrants in Germany | Penn Today

Germany Sees 72 Percent Increase in Anti-Immigrant Crimes

Of note:

Germany recorded a 72.4 percent increase in anti-immigrant crimes in 2020 – up to 5,298 total cases – as officials warned Tuesday that the country is experiencing a dangerous rise in far-right violence.

Interior Minister Horst Seehofer said in total, far-right crimes rose 5.65 percent in 2020, and accounted for more than half of all “politically motivated” crimes.

“This shows again that right-wing extremism is the biggest threat for our country,” Seehofer said Tuesday, according to the Associated Press.

In February 2020, the country saw its deadliest anti-immigrant attack when nine immigrants were killed near Frankfurt, Germany, after a gunman opened fire and called for the “complete extermination” of many “races or cultures in our midst,” the AP reported.

Authorities have since raised concerns that the far-right Alternative for Germany party, or AFD, which placed third in the country’s 2017 election and has grown in influence, has played a role in stoking a climate of hatred toward immigrants and the government.

German security agencies have warned of the growing threat of violent far-right extremism. In July 2019, a regional politician from Chancellor Angela Merkel‘s party was killed by a neo-Nazi; three months later, a gunman tried to force his way into a synagogue on Yom Kippur, killing two people.

Seehofer said antisemitic crimes in Germany were up 15.7 percent in 2020 over 2019 with 2,351 total incidents — 94.6 percent of which were committed by a far-right suspect.

Of the total, 62 were acts of violence while the majority were antisemitic hate speech and other related crimes, frequently on the internet or over social media, Seehofer said.

“This development in Germany is not only troubling, but in view of our history, deeply shameful,” he said.

Moshe Kantor, president of the European Jewish Congress, said the German numbers highlighted a broader issue.

“This is a wake-up call, not just for Germany, but for the whole world,” he said. “These figures should ring alarm bells, because we are seeing similar trends across the Western world.”

Many in the AfD have expressed support for, and participated in, the regular protests in Germany against lockdown measures, organized by the Querdenker movement. The demonstrations have become increasingly violent, and the country’s domestic intelligence service last month said it had put some members of the movement under observation.

The protests have brought together a broad range of demonstrators, including people opposing vaccinations, those who deny the existence of the coronavirus, mask opponents, conspiracy theorists and others.

Seehofer said the protests have also attracted neo-Nazis and other right-wing extremists, and have regularly become violent, targeting police and the media. Seehofer said of the 260 reported crimes against journalists, 112 were related to protests against coronavirus restrictions.

“I want to say here very clearly: These acts of violence are no longer about exercising a constitutional right (to demonstrate), but are acts of violence of a criminal nature that I condemn in the strongest possible terms,” he said.

Source: Germany Sees 72 Percent Increase in Anti-Immigrant Crimes

Make becoming a German citizen easier, integration ministers urge

Of note:

Children born to foreigners living in Germany should be granted faster access by law to German citizenship, integration ministers from Germany’s 16 states have urged in a majority appeal

Meeting in the harbor city-state of Bremen Friday, ministers called on the federal government to reform Germany’s Nationality Act (StAG) by reducing a resident child’s waiting time for citizenship from the current eight years to six years.

A reduction to four years should apply to foreign families who show special integrative aptitude, urged ministers, who form Germany’s Integration Ministers’ Conference (IntMK). The group, whose rotating chair is currently held by Bremen’s Social and Integration Senator Anja Stahmann of Germany’s opposition Greens, was initiated under Chancellor Angela Merkel in 2007 to coordinate regional and federal policies, but often exposes major differences among state approaches.

Stahmann said ministers meeting Friday also urged for relaxing Germany’s legislated aversion to multiple nationalities and that German language acquisition at the mid-range B1 level be sufficient to test successfully for citizenship.

The IntMK also received a study showing trust migrants hold toward German authorities and urged the federal government to fully use EU-negotiated quotas to bring “subsidiary” family members and reunite them with refugees already in Germany. Of the 12,000 such entries possible last year only 5,300 visas were issued, it said.

Last week, a flight carrying 103 refugees landed in Hanover, raising to 2,765 the number of arrivals in Germany since April 2020, meeting the target of 2,750 that Germany had declared itself willing to accept.

Source: Make becoming a German citizen easier, integration ministers urge