Thursday Jun 04, 2020
BERLIN: German artist Eme Freethinker has painted a portrait of George Floyd on what used to be the Berlin Wall to honour the unarmed black man killed May 25 by a white Minneapolis police officer, who knelt on his neck for almost 10 minutes.
Floyd's death has raised questions about systemic racism and police brutality not only in the United States but also across Europe. Peaceful rallies were held in London, Paris, and Berlin in the solidarity and justice for Floyd.
Paying tribute to him in a unique way, Eme Freethinker captioned the mural with the phrase "I can't breathe" that Floyd said moments before he died and added three hashtags — #georgefloyd, #icantbreath, and #sayhisname — on a section of the former Berlin wall in the German capital to show solidarity with the black American.
Meanwhile, in the wake of Floyd's killing, Afro-German and other civil rights groups are urging the authorities to address an effective strategy against racism, Islamophobia, antisemitism, and hatred against foreigners, especially against the black community living in Germany.
In 2015, after the influx of hundreds of thousands of refugees from Syria and African countries, as well as Afghanistan and Pakistan, the populist anti-immigrant political party, Alternative for Germany (AfD), came to the forefront.
In the last general elections, the anti-Islam and anti-immigrant AfD managed to reach the federal parliament as the biggest opposition party and has MPs in all 16 regional parliaments.
Germany is also seeing a gradual rise in racist attacks on immigrants.
A recent example was the Hanau incident wherein a suspected right-wing extremist opened fire at a shisha bar and the "Arena Bar & Cafe" in Hanau, killing nine people of foreign heritage.
Authorities had described the attack as far-right xenophobic violence.
In October last year, an assailant tried to carry out a mass shooting at a synagogue in Halle, killing at least two people. German Chancellor Angela Merkel had subsequently said racism and hatred were "a poison" in the society.
In Munich 2016, an eighteen-year-old right-wing extremist targeted teenagers of non-German descent and killed nine people in a mass shooting.
Simultaneously, many local politicians and journalists have been threatened for supporting immigrants and opposing racial discrimination.
Ethnic minority groups further demand that more studies and data mechanisms were required to report the practices of racism and discrimination in the daily life of immigrants.