NGOs offer advice on avoiding racist attacks

7th June 2006, Comments 0 comments

7 June 2006, BERLIN - A newly-opened German web site is offering advice to visitors of colour to the World Cup in Germany on how to avoid racist attacks.

7 June 2006

BERLIN - A newly-opened German web site is offering advice to visitors of colour to the World Cup in Germany on how to avoid racist attacks.

The site, up and running since Wednesday in five languages, warns of the particular danger of racist attacks against people travelling in Germany's economically-depressed regions.

"We are advising particular care if you are stopping in east Germany, and in parts of east Berlin," the site recommends.

The International League of Human Rights and the Africa Council, both organizations with a mission to fight racism, are operating the site jointly.

A debate over possible racist attacks against World Cup visitors began in Germany several weeks ago after Uwe-Karsten Heye, a former government spokesman, predicted attacks against fans of colour by German right-wing extremists.

Heye's remarks were sharply criticised by government and World Cup officials, but the issue of possible racist attacks during the World Cup has become even more emotionally charged after a recent attack in a Berlin suburb against a German politician of Kurdish extraction.

"Heye was very brave to say what he did, silence is shame," said Yonas Endrias, a spokesman for the Human Rights League.

The danger of violence against persons of colour in east Germany and east Berlin are not only significant, but dramatically higher than in the west of the country, said Judy Gummich, of the Africa Council, an umbrella organization representing twenty-five ethnic minority groups in Berlin and the German state Brandenburg.

Endrias rejected traditional explanations of racism attacks in Germany - destitution and joblessness - as the sole reasons for the continuing violence. "Racism is a social problem," says the political scientist, who was born in Eritrea but has lived in Germany for more than twenty-five years.

German anti-racism activists have criticised the international football association FIFA, the German World Cup organising committee and the German government for not preparing any special measures to assist victims of racism at the World Cup, despite the extreme cost of organizing the event.

Several German non-governmental organizations expect to have emergency hotlines operational by Thursday.

Another common target for criticism in Germany is the society's ready willingness to make racist distinctions between white Germans and Germans of colour.

"It is almost a common thing to be insulted as a 'nigger'...or as a 'black German of African background'", Gummich said.

The problem for Gummich and Endrias, and other potential targets for racist attacks in Germany, is that some neo-Nazi groups welcome the declaration of a street or a district dangerous for people of colour, as proof of the region's "liberation from alien groups."

"What can we do, put ourselves in danger and hold our heads in our hands?" Endrias asked, rhetorically.

The best means for preventing or dealing with a racist attack is travelling in groups, asking onlookers for help, and in some cases doing something unexpected, the web site advises.

Copyright DPA with Expatica

Subject: German news

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