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Germany's worldwide call to arms against racism

February 24, 2020

In an address to the United Nations, Germany's foreign minister has called on all countries to combat racial prejudice. Maas said racism and hatred is what took the lives of 10 victims in Germany a week ago.

eiko Maas, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Germany, speaks with staff
Image: picture-alliance/S. d. Nolfi

Countries should step up to fight racism and protect minorities from hate crimes, German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas said on Monday. The call comes a week after a right-wing extremist gunman killed nine people when he  attacked hookah bars in Hanau before turning the gun on himself. 

Maas called racism a "disease" and said the whole world is suffering from it. 

"It is a disease that blackens the entire world, a disease we must all fight together," he told the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva.
"We can wait for more attacks, more abuse, more violations of human rights to happen, more horror. Or we can decide that we have seen enough and take action."

Those who "look different," "live different," or "love different" suffer from hate, Maas said, before adding that hate and racism were also behind last Wednesday's attack on Hanau's migrant community in Germany. 

Read moreOpinion: We all belong to Germany — but racism does not

'Deeply racist mentality'

A 43-year-old right-wing extremist shot dead nine people in two different shisha bars in the city of Hanau on February 19. He was found dead hours later at home, along with the body of his mother, in what appeared to be a murder-suicide.

German federal prosecutor Peter Frank told German media that all of the victims had an immigrant background. They included both German and foreign citizens.

The Turkish embassy in Berlin established that five of the victims were Turkish citizens. One victim was confirmed to be from Bosnia-Herzegovina, with German citizenship.

Romanian President Klaus Johannis confirmed that one victim was a 23-year-old Romanian, while the Bulgarian Foreign Ministry said another was a citizen of Bulgaria.

German authorities confirmed a day after the attack that the gunman showed signs of a "deeply racist mentality." Attorney General Peter Frank said a video and manifesto posted on the suspect's website expressed "not only crazy thoughts and convoluted conspiracy theories, but also a deeply racist mentality."

'Worsening' human rights 

Speaking in front of the Council, Maas also denounced the mistreatment of ethnic and religious minorities including China's Uyghurs

He also talked about violent conflicts in the Middle-East and Africa, saying Germany was involved in the fight against impunity.

Maas condemned the ongoing violation of fundamental freedoms in North Korea, China, Egypt and Russia as well as human rights abuses in Venezuela. 

mvb/aw (dpa, EPD, KNA)

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