“Camel drivers and cumin traders”

Andre Poggenburg at the Political Ash Wednesday in Saxony © Sebastian Kahnert

With his Ash Wednesday speech, AfD politician Andre Poggenburg meets with sharp criticism. After he denigrated the Turkish community as "camel drivers," he now faces charges.

On Thursday, German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier had already strongly condemned the speech: "What I see is that there are politicians who make intemperance in language, ruthlessness and hatred in their attitude their own strategy," he said in Halle. He very much hoped that political leaders would be aware of their exemplary character "and behave accordingly," said the head of state.

Sofuoglu: Remind of the rule of law

Poggenburg, chairman of the AfD parliamentary group in Saxony-Anhalt, had called the Turkish community in Germany "camel drivers" and "caraway traders" in his Ash Wednesday speech in Nentmannsdorf, Saxony. He had called people with dual citizenship "fatherless riffraff that we no longer want here". Federal Justice Minister Heiko Maas (SPD) told Redaktionsnetzwerk Deutschland: "Anyone who discriminates against people on the basis of their origin or ancestry must be accused of being a racist."

The chairman of the Turkish Community of Germany, Gokay Sofuoglu, told the newspapers of the Funke Mediengruppe (Friday) that the scene reminded him of the speeches of Reich Propaganda Minister Joseph Goebbels. Sofuoglu told SWR that charges would be filed against Poggenburg. "We want to remind the AfD politicians that they live in a constitutional state, that there is a Basic Law here, and that our Basic Law prohibits incitement of the people, defamation and discrimination."

In a statement, the Turkish community also recommended that "it is best to buy cumin from your trusted spice dealer. And if you want to see camels, a trip to Turkey is rather inappropriate."

Poggenburg: In the context of the political Ash Wednesday

The integration commissioner of the German government, Aydan ozoguz (SPD), accused Poggenburg of placing himself "outside our basic democratic order". "The AfD’s bourgeois plaster is crumbling more and more, its foundation is brown," ozoguz told Redaktionsnetzwerk Deutschland.

Poggenburg, who is considered a representative of the right wing within the AfD, said in a statement on Thursday that he had used "harsh and crude language". At the political Ash Wednesday, he usually speaks very pointedly. Against this background, he said, he could not understand the "at least partially exaggerated reporting".

"A direct insult or disparagement of other nationalities is completely far from me," said Poggenburg. "Political correctness" should not mean that the tradition of Political Ash Wednesday should not be allowed to continue.

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