A large Berlin-based architecture firm found itself in hot water on Wednesday after their way too straightforward response to a job candidate that he shared on his Facebook.
“No Arabs please”, the employer, which brags about a multinational staff on its website and has a second office in China, emailed Yaseen Gabr, a man of Egyptian descent, and the story instantly started a far-reaching journey all across social media.
The firm called GKK+Architekten and founded back in 2000 features 30 flags on its website signifying the ethnicity of those working at the company, did not deny the incident but said “a misunderstanding” had occurred due to the message being “cut short” and “taken out of context”.
The company didn’t explain how exactly the message was “misleadingly” shortened or what the misunderstanding consisted of.
"The cornerstone of our success is diversity, internationality, and our intercultural teams”, the firm stated going on to note that the reason why they hadn’t accepted Gabr for the vacancy is because he didn’t have the skills they were looking for.
The company said they had offered him their apologies for the rejection letter, which was apparently sent to him by mistake.
Netizens instantly rushed to social networks to express their disdain.
“Worst rejection letter”, one posted adding she is overly sad about “this happening in Germany”. Many echoed the sentiment:
Worst rejection letter: 'no Arabs please'. Just so sad what’s happening in Germany. “Germany's levels of racist discrimination in the workplace are well above EU averages.“ https://t.co/bH1hqeDs5h— Hilke Schellmann (@HilkeSchellmann) January 16, 2020
racial discrimination in the workplace is higher in Germany than the EU average.https://t.co/DA2ZQhMmLH Germany: 'No Arabs please' job rejection controversy— dr jaidee (@Jaideerahmani) January 15, 2020
Absolutely. Just shows how comfortable she was, and how common these attitudes must be. So saddening.— Musa Okwonga (@Okwonga) January 15, 2020
…while some suggested the matter should be effectively overhauled by German state and given sufficient media attention:
A young man applies to an architecture firm in #Berlin— Ravi Kant - रवि कांत (@LegalKant) January 15, 2020
The head of the office comments on the application as:
"Please no Arabs"
The discrimination based on religion and ethnicity in Germany is an issue that is avoided by the German media and state#Rassismus https://t.co/DHqfMgf2f3
glad it got media attention that quick!— Mahmoud Tantawy (@mtantawy) January 15, 2020
Germany: 'No Arabs please' job rejection controversy https://t.co/ejKR8QkqCY
Some, however, agreed, the choice of words like “misunderstanding” was odd:
yes! and to call it a 'misunderstanding' is baffling. what other meaning could there be?— Justin Olivier Salhani (@JustinSalhani) January 15, 2020
According to the country’s Federal Employment Agency, of the 2.27 million unemployed persons in Germany in 2019, 46 percent were not ethnic Germans, and that immigrants account for 23 percent of the population.
Another annual report, by Germany’s Federal Anti-Discrimination Agency, the country’s levels of racist discrimination in the workplace exceed EU data. For example, across the bloc, in 9 percent of cases there is registered discrimination among people of African descent, while in Germany the number is 14 percent.
The controversy over the migration issue has reached its climax since in 2015, Germany took in over one million refugees from Africa and Middle East amid the severe European migration crisis, as part of what Chancellor Merkel called an “open-door policy” – something that was one of the reasons for the rift in the governing coalition and a big public outcry.
In 2018, to mitigate the row, the German interior ministry set up so-called “transfer centres” and “anchor” bases to keep and process migrants who had illegally crossed into the country, with deportations now being carried out by separate German states under the supervision of the federal police.