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Germany

German nightclub bans refugees

Ingolstadt club "Amadeus" has banned refugees. After a wave of outrage, the owner is now considering introducing mentors who tell the refugees how to behave in German nightlife before they enter his establishment.

The nightlife in Ingolstadt, a city in Bavaria about an hour north of Munich, might soon see an interesting addition: asylum seekers handing out fliers about clubbing etiquette, telling other refugees how to behave appropriately toward women.

That's one suggested solution to a conflict that sprang up when Martin T., the owner of the "Amadeus" nightclub in Ingolstadt, announced his decision to ban refugees from his establishment earlier this week. Legally, a German club owner has the right to refuse entry to anyone he doesn't want in his nightclub. But after outrage over the ban, which some have deemed racist, the city of Ingolstadt and T. introduced the nightlife-mentors idea on Friday.

Controversial ban

Martin T., the man who started the controversy, said he didn't like to take the drastic step of banning refugees, but couldn't see any other way. He claimed he had never seen major trouble at the "Amadeus" until December 2014, when new refugees arrived in the local home for asylum seekers. T. claimed that on several occasions, the men harassed female guests, stole other people's coats and tried to get free drinks in his establishment.

In an interview with German daily "Süddeutsche Zeitung," he made it very clear why he didn't want the refugees at his club: "The blacks have a problem with women and the Arabs have a problem with aggression," he said.

Hamado Dipama. (Photo: privat)

Dipama: the owner's statements need to have consequences

Refugee activist Hamado Dipama cannot believe that T. could get away with such a statement that is, in his opinion, openly racist. He doesn't want the city to offer alternatives to the outright ban - he is calling on officials to at least issue a caution and has lodged a complaint against T. and the "Amadeus" with Ingolstadt's regulatory agency.

"This open kind of racism is really something new," Dipama said. "It's incredible to hear something like this in the 21st century."

Martin T. on the other hand emphasized that he was only trying to protect his guests after a number of incidents involving residents from the refugee home. In a Facebook statement, T. wrote that the "temporary measure" went completely against his usual "social and societal believes."

Treating refugees 'like children'

Dipama, who founded the "Network for a racism- and discrimination-free Bavaria," believes the ban is not just asocial but against the law. He recognizes that a nightclub owner can run his private establishment however he wants. But T., the refugee activist says, violated Germany's Law for Equal Treatment (AGG) which prohibits discrimination based on race, ethnicity, gender, religion or sexual orientation is prohibited in Germany. The AGG, Dipama says, tops the club owner's right to set his own house policy rules.

The suggestions by the city aren't much better, according Dipama. He sees no rhyme or reason in mentors standing in front of the club and approaching refugees with pointers on how to behave.

"The refugees aren't children who need to learn how to act before entering a club," Dipama said. "I would feel offended if someone stopped me to explain how I needed to behave. This is completely unacceptable to me."

Unwanted guests?

Lawyer Hendrikje Blandow-Schlegel, who founded a refugee aid initiative in Hamburg Harvestehude, warned that the ban, even if rescinded, could attract unwanted attention from the extreme right.

Hendrikje Blandow-Schlegel. (Photo: Marcus Brandt/dpa)

Blandow-Schlegel: conflict mediation would have been the better way to go

"The question is how the audience reacts to this," Blandow-Schlegel told DW. "It might attract certain people who support the ban. And these are not the kind of people I'd want to associate with."

One Facebook review that uses especially crude language against refugees inspired a similar concern in a user, who commented: "Mr. T, is this the sort of clientele you want at your club?"

"People who exclude others based on their skin color shouldn't be allowed to run a club in this country," a Facebook user wrote in another "Amadeus" review.

"The club has the legal right to categorically refuse guests who potentially harass other guests," another writes.

Harassment isn't restricted to one race

The refugee ban at "Amadeus" has prompted fears other groups could be banned from nightclubs as well, as Dipama says harassment isn't restricted to one particular group.

"Harassment in a nightclub is not solely a refugee problem, or a black problem or an Arab problem," he pointed out. "I watched how it goes in clubs. If you want to go with a ban, you could say no men were allowed to enter. You could institute a man-ban."

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