— Der Tagesspiegel (@tagesspiegel) February 28, 2018
German Chancellor Angela Merkel is in the centre of an intense media debate in Germany, after she criticised the decision of an organisation exploiting soup kitchens in Essen. The organisation decided as a temporary, emergency measure, to only accept new clients with a German passport. It was forced to do so, because it observed a “process of displacement“, which saw the share of non-German users rise to 75%, while clients of German background stopped coming. The chair of the soup kitchen, Tafel in German, Jörg Sartor is quoted as saying:
“We want the German grandmother to come to us again.“
The Tafel in Essen offers support for 6000 people in the region, and hopes the measure will restore the balance. Talks with its regular clientele showed that especially older female users and single mothers were deterred from coming by the large group of young, foreign-language men of which some showed
“lack of respect towards women.“
In a television interview with RTL, Merkel criticised the decision, saying:
“They should not make such categorisations. That is not good. But it also shows the pressure, that a lot of people feel and that is why I hope, that one finds good solutions that do not exclude groups.“
One might insert that Merkel’s analysis is somewhat flawed. The measure’s precise intention is to make sure certain groups are not excluded. But the idea that vulnerable women should be deserving of protection is apparently not entertained by Merkel, when the women are German. More politicians have levelled criticism at the Tafel, and their vehicles and door have been vandalised with graffiti, suggesting the Tafel is run by Nazi’s.
NAZI-SCHMIEREREIEN BEI DER ESSENER TAFEL!
Die Graffitis sind offensichtlich die Reaktion von Unbekannten auf den Aufnahmestopp für Ausländer. pic.twitter.com/06U0yjborG
— Volker Wallmueller (@VWallmueller) 25 februari 2018
Sator, who has worked at the Tafel for the last 13 years is struck by the accusation, and in turn criticises the politicians who have targeted him and the Tafel:
“Now there is a bunch of politicians hammering us, without informing themselves of the situation. They should come over and help with the work on site – afterwards, they’ve earned the right to speak their minds. (…) When people think I’m a fool, that’s fine. But it is a scandal how our volunteers are slandered. (…) We won’t remove [the nazi-graffiti]. Everybody should be able to see, what sort of idiots there are on this earth.“
The following video item by RP online shows most of Tafel’s customers agree with the measure at hand and seem to confirm the complaints about the behaviour by migrants.
Meanwhile, the time all discussion could be concluded by shouting ‘Nazi’ seems to have ended, even in Germany. Even the political left has entered the fray on the side of Sator, with Sahra Wagenknecht of the German Die Linke (The Left) outright attacking critics in a Facebook post:
“Instead of scolding the Tafel in Essen, the Federal government should ponder its own responsibility (…) It cannot be the case, that the poorer [people in Germany] are forced to bear the main burden of immigration. Instead of hypocritical outrage, we need the repair of the social state.“
In German newspaper Der Tagespiegel, an editorial states that Merkel “should have kept her mouth shut“. When discussing the situation, one of the paper’s leading editors is very clear:
“But one thing the critics should have shied away from: accusing the volunteers in Essen of xenophobia or even racism without knowledge of the precise circumstances. That is perfidious. There was clearly a cut-throat competition, in which elderly and single mothers with children felt pushed out by foreign-language refugees. This development deserved a reaction.“
Even within her own party, Merkel has come under fire. Alexander Dobrindt, the Federal Minister of Transport and Digital Infrastructure, is on a collision course with Merkel, according to an article in Welt:
“‘It is right, to make sure, that there is no displacement at the Tafel‘, [Dobrindt] said on Tuesday. He has spoken to chairman of the association Jörg Sartor and supports his decision. It musn’t happen, that those ‘who are legitimately entitled’, are excluded by the disrespectful attitude of others.“
ANYHOW, now we feel like having soup and watching a particular Seinfeld episode.