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German star Xavier Naidoo's Eurovision nomination withdrawn

Public broadcaster NDR has announced it is withdrawing Xavier Naidoo's nomination for the Eurovision Song Contest in 2016 after protests from the public. The singer's views generated controversy.

"Xavier Naidoo is an outstanding singer, who is neither a racist nor homophobic, in my opinion," said Thomas Schreiber, entertainment coordinator of Germany's public broadcaster ARD, of which NDR is a part, on Saturday. "It was obvious that he is a person who polarizes, but the vehemence of the reactions surprised us. We have misjudged the issue."

The withdrawal of the singer's nomination came in the wake of protests from the public and a social media backlash from people citing his links with right-wing groups. In 2014, the artist of Indian and African heritage gave a speech at a gathering at the right-wing populist Reich Citizens' Movement, which does not accept Germany as a sovereign state. In a TV interview in 2011, he stated that Germany was an "occupied country."

A spokesman for Germany's Lesbian and Gay Federation (LSVD) had criticized the nomination as well, saying Naidoo's lyrics are "full of fantasies of violence against homosexuals."

By nominating Naidoo directly, German public broadcaster ARD had changed its procedure from previous years, when singers had to compete against each other to become the nation's Eurovision candidate in a public vote.

Xavier Naidoo has sold millions of albums in Germany and won six Echo Awards. With his song "Dieser Weg" (This Way), he wrote the hit for the football World Cup in 2006, which was held in Germany.

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das/gsw (dpa, epd)

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