Chief of Free Democratic Party of Germany Christian Lindner has repelled accusations of racism and indulging the Nazis, which rose after his comment during a party convention on May 12.
"When you're standing in line in the bakery and someone in front of you orders a sandwich in broken German you can't discern whether he is a highly qualified artificial intelligence engineer from India or a foreigner who is being tolerated here illegally,” he’d said, trying to prove his point on the drawbacks of the current immigration policy.
He stressed: "People need to be sure, even if someone else looks and speaks only broken German, that there is no doubt about his legal status. That is the task of a demanding, liberal constitutional immigration policy."
The leader of the business-friendly FDP had intended to illustrate his standing on illegal immigration and its impact on society with the metaphor. Instead, it triggered an array of commentators, Twitter users and racism-watchers, including within his own party, who blamed Lindner for indulging intolerant behavior.
FDP member Chris Pyak even marched out of the party, claiming Lindner’s remark was essentially a justification of Nazis harassing people with dark skin.
Ich bin soeben aus der FDP ausgetreten.— Chris Pyak (@chris_pyak) 12 мая 2018 г.
"Bürger müssen sicher sein, das der Ausländer beim Bäcker kein Illegaler ist."
Christian Lindner hat in seiner Rede allen Nazis einen Vorwand geliefert dunkelhäutige Menschen zu drangsalieren.@Lambsdorff @johannesvogel @c_lindner
I has just left the FDP. "Citizens must be sure that the foreigner at the bakery isn’t illegal." In his speech, Christian Lindner has given all Nazis an excuse to harass dark-skinned people.
Lieber @c_lindner ich hab keine Angst vor Menschen, die gebrochen Deutsch sprechen.— Esther aka Kampfbuddhine (@theweirdgerman) 14 мая 2018 г.
Ich hab Angst vor jenen, die in ihrer Verblendung nicht erkennen, dass es sich um Menschen handelt.
Ich seh keinem an der Nasenspitze an, ob er Dreck am Stecken hat. Weil das weder Sache der…
Dear @c_lindner I'm not afraid of people who speak broken German. I am afraid of those who, in their delusion, do not realize that they are human beings. I see none at the tip of his nose, if he has dirt on the plug. Because neither of that is the thing.
However, some were more light-hearted and taken everything with humor.
The problem is that Christian Lindner obviously has not been standing in line for far too long.
Others pointed out that scandal was artificial.
Der ebenso künstliche wie arrogante Furor wegen des vermeintlichen Bäckerei-Rassisten Christian Lindner illustriert das ganze Elend der deutschen Debattenkultur: wird jeder Furz als diskriminierend, rassistisch, sexistisch apostrophiert, ist´s bald nichts mehr. #morbusnazikeule— hajo schumacher (@hajoschumacher) 14 мая 2018 г.
The equally artificial and arrogant fury about the alleged bakery racist Christian Lindner illustrates the whole misery of the German culture of debate: every fart is discriminatory, racist, sexist apostrophized, it's almost nothing.
Following the debates, the FDP Chief decided to give an extra explanation for his anecdote on Twitter, stating that "Whoever thinks my comments were racist or right-wing populist, is being hysterical, as such debates should be more sensible and sober.”
He pointed out that his anecdote was based on a true story of a foreigner who faced xenophobia during the recent years, Germany has experienced migrant crisis with influx of hundreds of thousands of refugees from the Middle East and Africa. He elaborated on his initial idea, saying this challenge can be responded with acting in accordance with the “rules of law.” The opposite situation creates unrest in the society, according to Lindner.
The FDP came forth in the recent 2017 parliamentary elections in Germany, giving way to the right-wing Alternative for Germany, which made a tougher stance on migration policy its cornerstone. At the same time, the FDP's leader found support among the AfD platform after he walked away from building a government coalition with Angela Merkel’s Christian Democratic Union and Christian Social Union. Following the move, for which Lindner was dubbed a coalition breaker, a poll by the German public broadcaster ARD showed that 64 percent of AfD voters saw him in a positive light. This is nearly three times more than the pre-election result (25 percent before the September election). Even the AfD co-leader, Alexander Gauland, came behind him in the study with a 58 percent approval rating.