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Germany scraps Echo music awards

April 25, 2018

Record companies have scrapped the Echo awards after controversy erupted around anti-Semitic lyrics by the winners for best album. The decision came on a day of solidarity rallies with Jewish communities across Germany.

Echo Prize trophy
Image: picture-alliance/dpa/J. Kalaene

On Wednesday, Germany's BVMI music industry association announced that it would scrap its main annual prize after it was awarded to a rap duo whose lyrics were deemed anti-Semitic.

"The Echo brand is so badly damaged that a complete new beginning is necessary," the BVMI announced, adding that the "Echo will be no more."

"The events surrounding this year's Echo, for which the board apologized, cannot be reversed, but we can ensure that such a mistake does not happen again in the future," the BVMI statement said.

A firestorm of outrage erupted after the Echo's Hip-Hop/Urban prize was handed out earlier this month to the rap duo of Kollegah and Farid Bang, who in a song titled "0815" say their bodies are "more defined than Auschwitz prisoners."

The prize, which is based on sales, had gone to the act after they sold more than 200,000 copies of their album "Young, Brutal and Handsome 3."

The duo has since apologized, and their record label has put up €100,000 ($125,000) for a campaign to combat anti-Semitism.

Musicians return prizes

Since the April 12 announcement that the duo had won, several prominent German musicians, including the influential rocker Marius Müller-Westernhagen and well-known classical conductor Daniel Barenboim, have returned awards in protest.

Barenboim released a statement saying the rappers' lyrics are "clearly anti-Semitic, misogynist, homophobic and contemptuous of human dignity."

A number of sponsors have said they will no longer support the event.

Meanwhile, BVMI said that work would begin on rolling out a new prize with a new name, and that workshops to set up the new prize would begin in June.

On Wednesday, people in Germany staged shows of solidarity after the incidents that raised pointed questions about Berlin's ability to protect its burgeoning Jewish community seven decades after the Holocaust. 

av/jm (dpa)

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