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Bellydance for tolerance

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Cologne and the river Rhine

Cologne and the river Rhine

The people of Cologne have a nice sense of humor. They’ll even turn political protest against Neo-Nazis into a carnival.

Liberal groups in Cologne are calling on the people of the city to stage a mass bellydance on September 20th. They’re hoping that 11 000 dancers will swing their hips to oriental music in protest against a neo-Nazi rally planned for that day.

Right-wing organizations from all over Europe will be meeting in Cologne from September 19 – 21 for an anti-Islam convention.

Its “highlight” will be a rally in downtown Cologne. Notorious right-wing politicians from all over Europe will be there – including Jean-Marie Le Pen, the head of the French “Front National”, representatives of Italy’s Lega Nord, Belgium’s Vlaams-Belang and Austria’s FPÖ.

Not the kind of people I like to see in my home town.

And not the kind of event that’ll give the city good press.

Many citizens of Cologne are furious about this right-wing rally. But there’s no way to stop it. The authorities say it’s a legal political demonstration. They can only step in when speakers openly advocate racism or hatred.

So to show their opposition against this right-wing convention, the people of Cologne have decided to bellydance against Neo-Nazism.

I think that’s a much more imaginative idea than simply calling a counter-demonstration. Because the idea of a left-wing demonstration clashing violently with the right-wing demonstration doesn’t really turn me on either.

So, people of Cologne: get out your “I Dream of Jeannie” outfits and bellydance for tolerance on September 20th!

Written by Thorsten

September 10, 2008 at 2:57 pm

A Different Germany

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Leipziger Baumwollspinnerei

I was in Leipzig over the weekend, which used to be part of communist East Germany. We were sitting in a cafe on Saturday and a young black man walked in. It suddenly occurred to me that he was the first colored person I’d seen all day.

From that moment on, I kept my eyes open, actively looking for ethnical diversity in Leipzig. But throughout the rest of the weekend, I hardly saw any black, Asian or Turkish people. And I didn’t see any ethnic shops either – no Turkish fruit sellers, no Indian stores with colorful saris and Bollywood movies, no Vietnamese specialty shops, or Asian supermarkets.

I’m sure these people and these shops exists in East German towns like Leipzig – they just aren’t as visible as in West Germany, where large parts of the population are now of Turkish, African or Asian origin.

And it’s bizzarre that Neo-Nazism, xenophobia and racism are much stronger in the East than in the West – even though the population there is much more “GERMAN” than in the multi-ethnic cities of western Germany.

Written by Thorsten

March 31, 2008 at 12:49 pm

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