Politics needs culture and cultural workers, say yatin shah and irina honig, the green candidates for the state parliament and the district parliament from hammelburg in the election campaign. And for that they have on 31. August bundestag vice president claudia roth invited to langendorf. The grunen of the first hour is not only concerned with artists, but with the culture of democracy. She does this without fear of personal hostility. “You will be gassed together with mutti and all those who are making fun of the german people”, the 63-year-old receives such and similar hate mails and death threats on a daily basis. In an interview with this newspaper, she explains why she is not afraid and why she remembers hans-josef fell from hammelburg so well.
I recently heard a woman say: I like roth because she still has the decency to get upset. Claudia roth: but that”s quite a compliment. And it is true. Unfortunately, there are quite a few reasons to get upset and mobilize at the moment. And it”s about more than electioneering. It”s about our democracy, the cohesion in our society – about what has made us rich and strong.
Almost every day the democracy seems to have to defend itself.
Yes, that is true. When I look at the incident in saxony alone: a TV team from ZDF is mobbed and then prevented from doing its job – by the police. And the saxonian minister-president immediately questions the seriousness of journalists. It is unbelievable that an attempt was made here to prevent journalism and that there is backing from the minister-president.
It’s enough to make the hairs on the back of your neck stand on end. Yes, because we have to be very aware of what distinguishes our society from those that are currently being shaped by all the trumps, putins or erdogans. Because if there is no freedom of opinion and freedom of the press, if our basic law is maltreated like a stone quarry, if we don’t understand that we need this for our freedom, then something very important disappears: our foundation of values that holds us together. Human rights and democratic rights are in free fall. And in our debates, a brutalized language is taking hold that has not only lost respect and objectivity, but also breeds hatred and exclusion. This can be seen, for example, in the asylum dispute that interior minister horst seehofer and minister president markus soder waged against the chancellor. This is also perceived abroad.
How do you know that? I recently spoke with prince said al hussein, who is still the acting commissioner for human rights of the united nations. He asked me, "what the hell is going on in bavaria??"
So it’s not enough that markus soder promised to stop using the word "asylum tourism" no longer to be used? No, because the policy behind the words does not change. By the way, I do not believe that he will reach the majority of the bavarians. These people are much more values-based than the party that still governs the country believes. The receptiveness and solidarity in bavaria has impressed me immensely. Many in this country do not understand why people seeking help are criminalized or discredited. But there are also other tendencies: right-wing and folk ideologists are currently in the ascendant, and we must actively oppose them. But that does not work by copying their slogans, because that only makes us stronger than the original. The CSU has only come up with this fatal strategy. It has thereby unfortunately contributed to the fact that the political culture in bavaria got massive scratches. But the end does not justify every means – not even a state election.
You have been resolutely opposed to racism and xenophobia since before you became vice president of the bundestag, and you have been taking flak for it for years. Now, however, you have become the hate figure of the afd and the new right. They receive daily sexualized fantasies of violence, even threats of murder. How do you deal with it? I have an environment that strengthens and protects me. But: I know that many people in our country are afraid. When a jew is afraid to wear the kippah and a muslim feminist blogger has to think every day whether she can continue to write in the face of racist, sexist and islamophobic hate comments, something is wrong in our country. That’s why it’s extremely important to show solidarity, attitude and face. And I certainly don’t give my fear to these haters.
Is it difficult for you to remain impartial as vice president of the german parliament?? No. In this office, I am partisan, and I am partisan for the order of business of the german parliament.
Which is why you interrupted the unscheduled minute of silence of the afd for the murder victim susanna. Right, because it was a deliberate provocation and willful disregard for the rules of society. But I do not only want to keep order in the debate. I also want to get the house was. For me, the denial of history and the degradation of the high house is something I cannot accept. I do not want the heart chamber of our democracy to be held in contempt. You see in america where it leads when there are attempts to weaken democratic institutions.
Why do they have to look so far? I would remind you of the deported sami A.. A court has forbidden the deportation from germany, nevertheless he was brought to tunisia. The deportation was illegal, as confirmed by the north rhine-westphalia supreme administrative court, because sami A. Torture threatens in tunisia. It’s a good thing that our press uncovered the fact that officials had concealed the time of departure from the court – that’s how the decision came about that sami a. Not being allowed to be deported, arriving too late because the court was not aware of the urgency. This case is about the important principle of the separation of powers and the independent administration of justice without regard to the person. When nwr interior minister herbert reul said, "judges should always have in mind that their decisions are in accordance with the public’s sense of justice.", he put a subjective sense of justice above the rule of law. And against this attack on democracy, i say: wehret den anfangen (resist the beginnings)!
Wehrt den anfangen, um die kultur der demokratie zu schutzen – und dafur braucht es kunstler? We need artists and political culture. And that expresses itself in language, respect and recognition. And we mustn’t think we can fight legal fraud by copying it. We need the offensive confrontation with the afd, we need to show what it stands for beyond the incitement: for nothing. And we need people with vision like hans josef fell from hammelburg.
You know him? But of course! He was a forward thinker when it came to renewable energies. While the afd still claims that there is no climate change, he started decades ago to make europe and the whole planet fit for the future.
Because he was one of the first to use solar panels? Correct. And because he already knew back then that ecology also goes hand in hand with economy. Many countries have adopted the renewable energies act (EEG). Fell has shown: it is feasible. And I’m sure that in hammelburg, too, he was once dismissed as a green wacko for doing so. But fell has set milestones. That alone makes me look forward to hammelburg.
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