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Weimar: Nie Wieder!

by Oui Sun Feb 9th, 2020 at 12:19:42 PM EST

The placard shows far-right politician Björn Höcke and reads 'never again' (Photo credit: Reuters/H. Hanschke

More below the fold ...

Historical context Weimar Republic

Germany seeks to reclaim Weimar Republic from fascism that followed | Irish Times - Aug. 12, 2019 |

Germany's far-right populists are on the rise, as are random, violent street killings. People are dizzy with the potential - and danger - of new mass media. And, all over Berlin, posters have gone up for the Moka Efti orchestra.

What sounds like an episode of the crime drama series Babylon Berlin, shining a light on the dingy corners of the interwar German capital, is, in fact, Berlin 2019.

A century ago, on August 14th, the so-called Weimar Republic came into being after the constitution drafted and agreed in the city of Goethe was formally adopted.

Germany's first experiment in democracy collapsed 14 years later, triggering nearly six decades of fascism, war, division and peaceful unification. But now, before gearing up to celebrate the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989, Germans are taking stock of the dark and light of their Weimar legacy.

The challenge of this centenary: to try to look at the history without the benefit of hindsight.

At a recent centenary celebration in Weimar, President Frank Walter Steinmeier insisted the Weimar Republic was more than a "one-way street", an inevitable slide towards economic chaos, Hitler's Nazi "barbarity" and six million Holocaust dead.  

Trailing Martin Luther in Thuringia | Travel |
Martin Luther's words co-opted by German far right
German court rules medieval anti-Semitic sculpture can stay on church in Wittenberg | Reuters - 5 days ago |
Martin Luther's "Vom Schem Hamphoras und vom Geschlecht Christi"

Building the first visible mosque in the East outside of Berlin

List of Ahmadiyya buildings and structures

After migrants, German nationalist party takes aim at Islam | Qantara - May 2016 |

Weeks after declaring that there is no place for Islam in Germany, a surging nationalist party has sharpened its rhetoric against prominent Islamic groups and suggested limiting the religious freedom of the more than 4 million Muslims in the country.

Senior members of Alternative for Germany cut short a meeting with the Central Council of Muslims, accusing the group of failing to renounce religious beliefs that they claim clash with the German constitution.

The confrontation came days after the party - known by its acronym AfD - launched a campaign against the construction of a mosque in the eastern state of Thuringia, joining up for the first time with the group known as PEGIDA (Patriotic Europeans against the Islamisation of the West).

Both groups have seen their popularity rise after Germany saw a greater influx of migrants in 2015 than any other European country. Nearly 1.1 million people - most of them Muslims - were registered as asylum-seekers, though the actual number who came is believed to be somewhat lower.

AfD had previously kept PEGIDA at arm's length due to its links with far-right extremists, but the party's leader in Thuringia, Björn Höcke, said there was "a lot of overlap" between the two on the issue of Islam.

"We see a need to send a signal," Hoecke told journalists ahead of a rally last week in Erfurt, the state capital. "We have common goals."

PEGIDA is known for staging protests that draw thousands in neighboring Dresden each week. One of its founders, Lutz Bachmann, was recently convicted of inciting hatred online after referring to migrants as "cattle" and "trash."

Planned Erfurt mosque targeted with dead pigs on wooden stakes | The Local - May 2017 |

Local community of Erfurt comes together ...

The popular premier: Bodo Ramelow | DW - Feb. 9, 2020 |

For others in Erfurt, Wednesday's vote was all the more bitter because it may yet mean the end of the Ramelow era. The Left party's outgoing state premier established a reputation as a competent governor: his personal ratings, sometimes over 60%, show that his popularity extends well beyond the state's Left party base.

Ramelow's defeat was one reason why Suleman Malik, spokesman for the Ahmadiyya mosque, joined the demo on Wednesday, along with other members of Erfurt's small (50) Muslim community.

For Malik, this week's events, Ramelow's defeat and the AfD's influence it highlighted, have a direct bearing on the mosque and the open society it represents. The small half-built structure is the result of a 15-year struggle: the process of collecting the donations, finding the land, and gaining planning permission were all dragged out by local resistance, one way or another.

Even now, the prejudice is having a real effect: Malik says construction was delayed by six months because some firms refused the contract for fear of hostility. "And that fear is stirred up by anti-democratic forces in parliament," said Malik.

But it was worth it. "We are seeing that there is an increase in the community again," said Malik. "People are coming back to Erfurt because they are seeing that there is a place for Muslims to meet."

Implosion of local politics

See recent diary by IdiotSavant - Breaking the cordon sanitaire in Germany.

Desolation and hope in German city of Erfurt after far-right vote | DW |

Three days later, Julian Degen is still a little stunned. "I felt empty," he says, nursing a coffee in the Left party's Erfurt office, which doubles as a youth club called RedRoxx. "And then I was just angry."

Degen is assistant to the local Left party leader Susanne Hennig-Wellsow, the Thuringian socialist who became briefly famous on Wednesday when she flung a bunch of flowers in disgust at the feet of Thomas Kemmerich, the Free Democrat (FDP) politician, who eventually lasted just three days as state premier of Thuringia.

Her frustration was palpable at the desolate gathering at RedRoxx in the aftermath of Wednesday's vote. "I've never seen Susi like that," Degen says.

Dozens of Left party supporters had gathered here to console each other after witnessing their worst nightmare: Not only had their candidate, the incumbent state premier Bodo Ramelow, been defeated, but for the first time since 1945, a mainstream German political party had collaborated with a far-right party to get their candidate elected.

Despite so much anger being directed at the FDP, for the Left party, the biggest disappointment was the Christian Democratic Union (CDU). If only five Thuringian parliamentarians from Angela Merkel's party had abstained, Kemmerich would not have been elected, sparing him and his party leader Christian Lindner, not to mention CDU head Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer, a week of turmoil that has seriously damaged all their positions. In the event, just three CDU delegates abstained, so Kemmerich won by one vote.

The Left party office in Erfurt has reinforced windows because of sustained vandalism (Photo: DW/B. Knight)

"Right until the end we hoped there would be people in the CDU who under no circumstances would make common cause with the AfD," said Katja Maurer, Left party state parliament member, who spent the dramatic night dividing her time between the fractious parliamentary session, heated party meetings, and the angry demo outside. "I've never seen so many people cry because of an election, including me."

Police cadets yelling "Sieg Heil" from windows ...

Jews and Muslims rally to highlight fight against anti-Semitism and Islamophobia

For Angela Merkel and the leading CDU/CSU party, this week's event was much more than local politics ... it was an attack on the fiber and heart of German society as presented today in a global world where anti-Semitism and Xenophobia has no place and will not be sanctioned or tolerated.

Further reading ...

Living with the 'Big Bad Wolf: Education in the GDR
Der Eichsfeldplan war ein Entwicklungsplan der SED für das Eichsfeld im Norden Thüringens (1958)

My recent diaries ...

Big Capitalism and Devaluation of Human Life
A Final Warning: Rise of Fascism

"A Minaret of Light": Transducing the Azan?

Of the many questions I was asked during my fieldwork, one of the most recurrent was whether Muslims in the Netherlands could use an alternative to amplifying the call to prayer. "Can't they just use a watch?" is still a frequent response among azan opponents, but also among people who have not given the meaning of religious sounds in urban settings much thought. As I will show, alternatives to the use of loudspeakers for the Muslim call to prayer are limited in their success.

In order to situate the demand for the amplified azan in the Dutch context, we need to grasp the issues of pluralism and material religion and their history in the Netherlands, which form the topic of this chapter and the next. Before looking at the cultural history of visible and audible expressions of religious pluralism in Chapter 2, this chapter expounds the contemporary situation by focusing on the thought-provoking attempt in the Netherlands to transduce the call into light, precisely because sound can be experienced as intrusive. This idea has come up in response to European discrimination or ambivalence toward Islamic aesthetics; Muslims and involved non-Muslims such as architects and local officials are adapting to find solutions to the strained relation between Islam and Dutch society. It shows that we need to pay attention not only to aesthetic formations (Meyer 2009; see Introduction) to understand how European societies are dealing with religious pluralism, but also to attempts to switch between different media--and thus bodily senses--by aesthetic transductions.

Molenaar & Van Winden architects. The Essalam Mosque, Rotterdam. (Photo:  

In his polemical book Euro Islam Architecture, Welzbacher defends the critical approach of the design for the Poldermosque in Rotterdam. The Poldermosque was designed in 2003 by architecture students with a Muslim background as a more "contemporary" alternative to the Essalam Mosque, which they considered uninspiring and orientalist. One of the principal designers of the Poldermosque was Ergün Erkoçu. Here, we will focus on an aspect of the Poldermosque that has been neglected in debates about mosque aesthetics, namely the proposal to transduce and replace the outward call to prayer by using light.  

Dreams of an Iconic Mosque: Spatial and Temporal Entanglements of a Converted Church in Amsterdam

In a Rotterdam mosque, anxious Dutch citizens debate the role of Islam | Times of Israel - March 2017 |

Hundreds of Dutch citizens packed into a Rotterdam mosque for an animated debate on the role of Muslims in the country, a central theme as key elections loom.

The Essalam mosque -- the biggest in The Netherlands -- hosted the evening, which comes as the Freedom Party (PVV) of far-right anti-Islam MP Geert Wilders appears set to emerge as one of the largest in parliament in Wednesday's vote.

Wilders has vowed to bar Muslim immigrants, close mosques and ban sales of the Quran, and new polls suggested he was consolidating his second place behind Prime Minister Mark Rutte's Liberal VVD and could be poised for his best polls showing ever.

Essalam mosque in Rotterdam drops imam over controversial Salafist remarks in past | NLTimes - March 2017 |
How God disappeared in Rotterdam and Allah took His place

Global Warming - distance between America and Europe is steadily increasing.

by Oui on Sun Feb 9th, 2020 at 03:13:34 PM EST

Global Warming - distance between America and Europe is steadily increasing.
by Oui on Mon Feb 10th, 2020 at 09:59:17 AM EST

Global Warming - distance between America and Europe is steadily increasing.
by Oui on Mon Feb 10th, 2020 at 01:12:32 PM EST
[ Parent ]

Global Warming - distance between America and Europe is steadily increasing.
by Oui on Mon Feb 10th, 2020 at 01:29:04 PM EST

Presently in a press conference discusses leadership struggle inside CDU/CSU coalition partner.

Global Warming - distance between America and Europe is steadily increasing.

by Oui on Mon Feb 10th, 2020 at 01:37:49 PM EST

Global Warming - distance between America and Europe is steadily increasing.
by Oui on Mon Feb 10th, 2020 at 01:43:18 PM EST
[ Parent ]

Global Warming - distance between America and Europe is steadily increasing.
by Oui on Mon Feb 10th, 2020 at 01:45:55 PM EST
[ Parent ]

Global Warming - distance between America and Europe is steadily increasing.
by Oui on Mon Feb 10th, 2020 at 01:48:46 PM EST

Global Warming - distance between America and Europe is steadily increasing.
by Oui on Mon Feb 10th, 2020 at 02:30:48 PM EST

Global Warming - distance between America and Europe is steadily increasing.
by Oui on Mon Feb 10th, 2020 at 11:01:56 PM EST
Opinion: What awaits CDU and Germany after Angela Merkel? | DW |

Trying times globally

Kramp-Karrenbauer's resignation and her party's search for its political identity come at an inopportune moment: Germany's economy could be losing steam, and socio-political tensions are growing more pronounced. It is a time when authoritarians such as US President Donald Trump are creating global instability. Although Germany faces serious domestic questions, the country must carry its growing international responsibility now that the post-Brexit European Union is also grappling with profound questions. Germany will take over the rotating presidency of the Council of the European Union in June.  

Could Angela Merkel's CDU make a turn to the right? | DW |

AKK, as she is also known, said she would also be stepping down as party leader -- for, as she also announced publicly a couple of hours later, "in my opinion, the party leader and its candidate for chancellor should be one and the same person."

The announcement marks the 57-year-old's final acceptance that the ongoing power struggle within the CDU has sapped her authority. AKK was elected party leader 14 months ago as the successor to Angela Merkel. Merkel, however, stayed put in the chancellery. It was an experiment for the CDU, which had combined the two positions under one person for decades.

But that experiment has been a failure. Even though the chancellor herself ostentatiously remained above the fray, AKK was unable to muster the strength and authority embodied for so long by Merkel. On the contrary, it became increasingly clear under AKK that the CDU was deeply divided: One wing sought a return to quintessentially conservative politics, and one, like Angela Merkel, preferred to focus on the socio-liberal center ground.

Merkel's Liberal bent

It was already clear from the internal party debate that the CDU was at a crossroads. For 18 years, Merkel had led the party, opening it up to the left and causing it to take on, in an adapted form, many ideas previously considered the realm of the Social Democrats (SPD). This strategy proved successful: Whenever the CDU applied this concept, the SPD's approval ratings fell.

But the approach had its drawbacks, too. For one, it exposed a gap to the right of the CDU, a void that the Alternative for Germany (AfD), which started out as a conservative party before moving ever further toward the extreme right, quickly filled. It also led to a conservative countermovement growing within the CDU, which, under the name of WerteUnion (Union of Values), is gaining more and more traction and attention.

The CDU's firewalls

Though there is a general consensus in the west of Germany that the only option is a strict rejection of the AfD, in the former East Germany there are plenty of Christian Democrats who actively wish for political cooperation with the AfD, in whatever form that might take. On the other end of the political spectrum, there are also different views in east and west over how to deal with the Left party.

Global Warming - distance between America and Europe is steadily increasing.
by Oui on Mon Feb 10th, 2020 at 11:02:59 PM EST
Wow, who could imagine - move to the center-left, and lose the right. It's the sort of thing that almost always happen in the reverse.
by Zwackus on Wed Feb 12th, 2020 at 01:25:25 AM EST
[ Parent ]
WerteUnion begrüßt die Abwahl Bodo Ramelows

WerteUnion: Merkels Hirte-Entlassung ist Schlag ins Gesicht der Unionsparteien

    Die konservative WerteUnion innerhalb der CDU hat die Abberufung des Ost-Beauftragten der Bundesregierung scharf kritisiert.

    Die WerteUnion, ein Zusammenschluss konservativer Christdemokraten, wendet sich gegen die Entlassung des Ost-Beauftragten der Bundesregierung, Christian Hirte.

    Nach der Wahl Thomas Kemmerichs zum Ministerpräsidenten in Thüringen habe Kanzlerin Angela Merkel erklärt, die Wahl müsse rückgängig gemacht werden. "Als sei dies nicht schon unangebracht genug, müssen wir nun erfahren, dass sie den Ost-Beauftragten der Bundesregierung entlässt", erklärte der Chef der WerteUnion, Alexander Mitsch. "Das ist zweifelsohne ein neuerlicher Tiefschlag für die innerparteiliche Demokratie." [Source: Der Spiegel]

Global Warming - distance between America and Europe is steadily increasing.
by Oui on Mon Feb 10th, 2020 at 11:04:04 PM EST

Global Warming - distance between America and Europe is steadily increasing.
by Oui on Tue Feb 11th, 2020 at 03:40:04 PM EST
Domestic terror and rightwing extremism increased after the influx of a million Syrian refugees in 2015. Populism and the Afd political party has given a voice to hate and xenophobia.

Rightwing extremism runs deep in German society up to 30%. Politicians in Berlin have looked away from the problem of xenophobia. Elements in German police, intelligence and armed forces have neo-Nazi sympathies.

Global Warming - distance between America and Europe is steadily increasing.
by Oui on Fri Feb 21st, 2020 at 07:17:03 PM EST

Global Warming - distance between America and Europe is steadily increasing.
by Oui on Fri Feb 21st, 2020 at 09:43:21 PM EST
[ Parent ]

Global Warming - distance between America and Europe is steadily increasing.
by Oui on Sat Feb 22nd, 2020 at 06:40:25 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Hanau: Father's tribute to killed daughter | BBC News |

Global Warming - distance between America and Europe is steadily increasing.
by Oui on Sat Feb 22nd, 2020 at 07:21:35 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Thuringia Chaos: Die Linke Candidate Ramelow State Premier

Left party politician Bodo Ramelow wins key German state vote | DW |

Bodo Ramelow has won the vote to become Thuringia's state premier after a right-wing scandal rocked the state. Ramelow essentially ran unopposed in the decisive third round of ballots.

Lawmakers in Germany's eastern state of Thuringia elected the Left party's Bodo Ramelow as state premier on Wednesday after months of political uncertainty and a major scandal involving the far-right Alternative for Germany (AfD) and Chancellor Angela Merkel's Christian Democrats (CDU).

Ramelow failed to gain a majority in the first two rounds of voting in a divided state with no clear ruling majority coalition. However, the state's constitution dictates that if a third round is neccessary, whoever garners the most votes wins.

Asked if he accepted the result, Ramelow nodded and said merely, "yes."

In his acceptance speech, Ramelow said he would have preferred "if Thuringia had not become internationally famous this way."

State-level scandal with national implications

The scandal also saw CDU leader Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer, who had been seen as Merkel's hand-picked successor, forced to step down as party chief -- scuttling her ambitions to fight for the chancellorship next year. Thomas Kemmerich (FDP) himself offered his resignation barely a day after the election, but has been caretaker state premier since the vote.

Ahead of Wednesday's vote, the outcome had been anything but clear as the state CDU said it would abstain from voting and the FDP refused to support the Left party. There was also added furor over the AfD putting forward state party spokesman Björn Höcke, a politician known in Germany for a series of xenophobic and anti-Semitic scandals.

After Germany's far-right scandal, Left party surges as Merkel's CDU sinks
The Thuringia debacle resets the Merkel succession | Brookings - Feb. 28, 2020 |

Global Warming - distance between America and Europe is steadily increasing.

by Oui on Wed Mar 4th, 2020 at 09:05:14 PM EST

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