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German police, stock photo from Pixabay

German Intergration Council rejects ‘Southern’ as racist terminology

The Integration Council of the German city of Bielefeld has accused the Bielefeld police of stirring up hostility against foreigners in their search requests and reports, because the officials often describe them as "southern-looking" perpetrators.

Published: April 19, 2018, 9:17 am

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    “We note with regret that a press release of the Bielefeld police obviously again expresses prejudices and stigmatization and fuels resentment, although after a clarifying conversation in 2015, a more sensitive approach to this issue had already been assured,” said the Integration Council.

    The criticism was also directed against the Neue Westfälische Zeitung. The sheet published the desciption “southern type”. Presumably, however, “no Southerners from Spain, Portugal, Italy, Greece or southern France were meant – and certainly not a German with black hair”.

    According to the Integration Council, “the term Southerners is more likely to be associated with a refugee, Turk or Moroccan”. This “confirms the prejudice that criminals are most likely to originate from these regions”. Certain groups of the population would thus be placed under general suspicion, which would correspond to the principle of so-called “racial profiling”.

    In order for a police search to yield a positive result, it is of great advantage if the search is as accurate as possible. In recent years, the term “Southerners” has become a controversial issue however.

    Citizens faced with such descriptions immediately understood that the suspect was possibly a migrant.

    But the Integration Board rejected such details: “We do not consider descriptions such as ‘southern’ in wanted cases to be of any relevance and demand that only concrete descriptions of persons be used.”

    The Bielefeld police responded promptly. In a recent search, the press office is now speaking for the first time of a “European appearance”.

    The Board of the Bielefeld Integration Council, chaired by Ölmez, Mehmet Ali, has called for the complete renunciation in press releases and police statements in the media, citing a link “between the ethnic origin, nationality, skin color or religion on the one hand and criminal behavior on the other”.

    Most of the staff of the Integration Board is from Turkish origin.

    Peter Biesenbach, now Justice Minister of North Rhine-Westphalia, had repeatedly called for an official inquiry to determine the scope of Middle Eastern gang activity, but his pleas had been rejected by his predecessor, because such a study would be politically incorrect.

    The previous NRW Interior Minister Ralf Jäger (SPD) expressly rejected research on such gangs: “Further data collection is not legally permissible. Both internally and externally, any classification that could be used to depreciate human beings must be avoided. In this respect, the use of the term ‘family clan’ is forbidden from the police point of view.”

    German authorities have however recently launched a crackdown on Middle Eastern crime gangs in Essen, a city in North Rhine-Westphalia where some 70 Turkish, Kurdish and Arab-born clan members regularly engage in serious offences, including human trafficking.

    The crackdown was only made possible after regional elections in North Rhine-Westphalia saw the ousting of the Social Democratic Party (SPD) which had mostly ruled the region since 1966.

    “Respect for the police tends towards zero with these clans,” said Arnold Plickert, head of the GdP police union in NRW. “These people live in their own parallel society and have no regard for the German constitutional state.”

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    • Wotans Krieger

      No harm in calling a spade a spade.

      • Otto

        End PC, or PC will end us.

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