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Berlin politician defies far-right murder threat

Ian P. Johnson
December 2, 2019

A prominent Berlin integration politician has made public a presumed far-right murder threat. Sawsan Chebli was told she would be "eliminated" if she did not quit her post in the city-state's senate by Christmas Eve.

Berlin Staatssekretärin für Bürgerschaftliches Engagement und Internationales Sawsan Chebli
Image: picture-alliance/dpa/F. Sommer

A defiant Chebli, Berlin city-state's official campaigner for civil engagement, replied on Twitter Monday: "I won't let myself be intimidated by you Nazis because I raise my voice for diversity...," and closed her remark emphasizing: "now more than ever."

The threat — she made public in photographs published online on Monday — follows emails containing death threats sent to two federal Green party parliamentarians Cem Özdemir and Claudia Roth on October 27, signed then by a right-wing extremist group calling itself "Atomwaffen Division Deutschland."

Chebli, 41, a Social Democrat and Muslim and deputy spokeswoman for Germany's Foreign Ministry until 2016, grew up in Berlin. Her Palestinian parents arrived in 1970 from a refugee camp in Lebanon.

'Third' on far-right murder list

Monday's threatening tweet, containing racist terminology, names Özdemir and Roth, and said Chebli would be third in a "right-wing extremist-initiated murder series" instigated with "financial incentives" for "easy manipulated Nazis."

"We demand that you publicly declare your resignation from office by 0:00 hours on 24.12.2019," wrote the anonymous intimidators who signed off with the words "Soldaten der Cyberreichtswehr" ("soldiers of the cyber imperial army")

Berlin award — 'Made in Germany has many faces'

On Sunday, Chebli had attended Berlin city's "Farben Bekennen" ("Show your Colors") gala award ceremony to honor special contributions made to German society by refugees.

Sunday's main recipient was the head of an Arabic restaurant in Berlin, picked by a jury of 12, including former football professional Arne Friedrich and German public television presenter Dunja Hayali.

Chebli had initiated Berlin city-state's award in 2018 as its deputy minister for civil engagement and international issues.

Frank-Walter Steinmeier
Until 2016, Chebli was deputy spokesperson for then-Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier, now German President. Image: picture-alliance/dpa/W. Kumm

Files 20 criminal complaints weekly

She has often been the target of abuse and threat via social media, saying last June that she filed between 20 and 30 criminal complaints each week.

In October last year, she deactivated her Facebook account in reaction to a series of hate messages directed at her.