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Obama warns of polarization at Berlin speaking event

May 4, 2023

On the Berlin leg of his global speaking tour, former US President Barack Obama warned of the danger posed by misinformation. He also shared meals with German Chancellor Olaf Scholz and former incumbent Angela Merkel.

Barack Obama and Olaf Scholz walking together
Barack Obama arrived in Berlin for a ticketed speaking eventImage: Florian Gaertner/photothek/picture alliance

Former US President Barack Obama has warned against the dangers of political polarization during an event in Berlin on Wednesday as part of his global speaking tour.

At the event, Obama said that some young people believe everything they see on social media platforms like TikTok.

He said this can lead to the spread of misinformation as well as polarization, both of which he cited as some of the greatest threats to democracy.

Obama's talk was held at the 17,000-seat Mercedes-Benz Arena. Tickets ranged from €60 ($65) to €550.

Obama meets with Scholz, Merkel

While in Berlin, Obama had dinner with his "old friend," former German Chancellor Angela Merkel, on Tuesday.

Obama's term as president from 2009 to 2017 coincided with the latter part of Merkel's time in office, and the two leaders had a warm relationship.

Angela Merkel and Barack Obama eating dinner
Obama also met with former German Chancellor Angela MerkelImage: Büro der Bundeskanzlerin a. D./dpa/picture alliance/dpa

The former US president also had lunch with Germany's current Chancellor Olaf Scholz on Wednesday.

He said the two leaders might come from opposing parties, but they share the same basic values.

These differences of opinion make for a healthy democracy, he added.

zc/rc (dpa)