Multicultural Germany: How We Experience Racism


Several recent controversies in Germany -- from the treatment of refugees to the obstacles faced by immigrants in the job market -- have thrown the issue of racial discrimination into the limelight. SPIEGEL spoke to 15 people of foreign descent to find out how racism affects their daily lives.

Last month, a newly opened shelter for asylum seekers in the Berlin neighborhood of Hellersdorf became the scene of heated protests by far-right demonstrators. But the controversy was only the most recent reminder that racism remains a serious problem in Germany. Far-right violence against immigrants has become endemic in parts of the country, while in the bigger cities, discrimination tends to be subtler if also widespread -- as seen with the recent scandals over racist door policies at nightclubs in Berlin and racial profiling by the Hamburg police.

In the spirit of public debate, SPIEGEL spoke to 15 people with foreign roots living in Germany to find out how racism plays into their daily lives. From the German-born housewife who was told to "go home" and treated like a terrorist after she decided to start wearing a headscarf, to the 79-year-old retiree whose family was killed at Auschwitz and still regularly gets insulted as a "gypsy" -- their stories paint a complicated, disturbing picture of the state of multiculturalism in a Germany still rife with nativist tendencies.

There are plenty of success stories -- a professional soccer player, a city treasurer and a parliamentarian are among those given a voice here. But even they have faced their fair share of discrimination. Lincoln Assinouko, a forward for a regional team in Lower Saxony, has been peppered with racial epithets by members of an opposing team. And Green Party Berlin representative Omid Nouripour has staff who help him sort through the piles of racist and Islamophobic hate mail he continuously receives.

Click through to read their stories in their own words.

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