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Politicians must change behavior to end violent polarization, says lobbyist

Updated: Apr 10, 2020

Eleven people were killed in Hanau, Germany, in the night of February 19 2020. It’s a horrific example of polarization turned deadly violent. Politicians, traditional media and social media are drivers for this extreme polarization that can trigger even more violence, according to Fatih Zingal.

The controversial German-Turkish political lobbyist and lawyer Fatih Zingal, says politicians need to take greater responsibility.

Fatih Zingal believe racism and islamophobia have become Germanys biggest problems. It also polarize societies in many other countries as well.

Fikaproject met him a couple of weeks after the deadly attack in Hanau.

Here is a shortened version of the talk:

Why are there extreme racists in Germany?

I think it’s partly because media paints negative scenarios and tie the negative effects to immigrants. In particular people with Muslim heritage. It has contributed to make anti-Muslim racism the largest problem in Germany.

The last years this political debate has contributed to create polarization. Every politician has to be aware of his or her responsibility for this. They need to be aware of what words they use, and which debates they initiate. If not, only negative effects of immigration will be discussed.

If the politicians don´t take this seriously, I fear that the murders in Hanau will not be the last ones.

Are there any constructive dialogues taking place? Yes, of course, in everyday life, in peoples spare time, at work, in universities. Everywhere where there are people. And this dialogue must be intensified. There must be an ongoing dialogue and it has to be respectful.

When we lose the respect, there won´t be a fruitful dialogue.

Are there enough such respectful dialogues?

It’s hard to say statistically. I think there are good initiatives. But responsible people need to make more effort. That’s where the politicians have a great deal of responsibility for what questions they push in public and what is needed to be discussed in everyday life.

The dialogue must go on all the time. Then hatred can be prevented in time.

How does one make this kind of dialogues happen? The simplest form is to talk with your neighbours. That’s a good dialogue.

But dialogue and meetings must also be arranged. People with different backgrounds should be invited to discuss current events when needed.

Could extreme Nazis take part in such meetings? There is always a question who are welcome. There are always people who wants to disturb, destroy and poison society.

I don´t think people like that have anything to do in such meetings. Those who arrange the meetings should see to that they are kept outside.

But then all that participate are pretty much on the same reasonable page?

I can’t not answer how it is. But I can give an example.

When a mosque is to be built, the local municipality sometimes invite the citizens for discussion. A lot of people tend to take part to express their concerns and ask questions.

I don´t think they are racists. Of course, there are people that worry and need to think through the situation. Of course, they must have a platform to receive information. Of course, they should be able to express what engages them.

So, no meetings and talks with racists, Nazis and other extreme?

I think it is meaningless to talk with extreme people. I don´t think an extremist is interested in dialogue.

Nevertheless, there are needs for dialogue, programs, where people who wants to leave the Nazi scene will get help. Then the number of Nazis can decrease.

Who should help them leave the Nazi scene? We are all responsible. Politicians, media, organizations, schools and so on. And we have to do it in a more coordinated way. High level politicians bear a large responsibility for this. If they initiate it in an overall way, I think it could be a success.

Do you think it is possible to reconcile after a violent deed like in Hanau?

Absolutely. The overwhelming majority of Germans are taking part in that reconciliation process. And there are a lot of dialogues between Germans with German background and Germans who have moved here and have an immigration background. I think this reconciliation is a part of everyday life.

But, nevertheless, there are worrying tensions.

There is a nice quote from a woman who lost five family members in the Sollingen arson in 1993:

”Love welds together,

hatred means death.”

I think that is an important sentence.

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