After violent attacks against the designated new head of the Federal Anti-Discrimination Agency (ADS), the camp of those who expressly want Ferda Ataman at this point is now growing. More than twenty migrant organizations and individuals spoke out in support of them in an open letter on Friday.
It was initiated by the “Federal Congress of Migrant Organizations” (BKMO). The alliance, which was founded in 2017, now unites more than 70 interest groups, including the most influential and most representative, such as the Turkish community, the Polish social council, the new German organizations (NdO), the central council of the African community and the federal parent network of migrant organizations (bbt). Non-members such as the Black People’s Initiative in Germany, one of the oldest Afro-German representatives, have also signed.
Among the individuals behind the letter are the writer Max Czollek and Meron Mendel, head of the Anne Frank Education Center in Frankfurt am Main. One of the allegations against Ataman was that her position on anti-Semitism was unclear.
Ataman is praised in the letter as a “competent and insistent occupation” who will help to change the General Equal Treatment Act, the reform of which the traffic light coalition has set as its goal.
The 42-year-old political scientist and trained journalist has been the target of violent attacks from politicians and social media since her nomination in mid-June. In particular, it was about her statements about the term “potato” for white Germans, which many consider a swear word and in turn discriminatory.
She was also accused of aligning the homeland agenda of former Interior Minister Horst Seehofer with the Nazis’ blood and soil policy. The allegations against Ataman that she divides and discriminates herself, according to the BKMO, are “unfounded” and are based on “deliberate misinterpretations of Ataman’s publications and statements,” the letter says. Karen Taylor, spokeswoman for the alliance, added that there is obviously “a problem with open and constructive criticism” in Germany, and that there is no other way to understand the allegations against Ataman.
The often-criticized statement on “blood and soil,” a concept that is older and was then implemented under National Socialism, comes from an editorial by Ataman for the newspaper of the Amadeu Antonio Foundation four years ago. There she personally referred positively to home (“I like the term”) and wrote: “But the real question is: Why are we discussing this question at all? The timing shows: The debate is not a reaction to the major social upheavals”, i.e. globalization, digitization or the upheavals on the labor market.
[If you want the latest news from Berlin, Germany and the world live on your cell phone, we recommend our app, which you can download here for Apple and Android devices.]
“We’ve only been talking about longing for home since many refugees have come. Politicians who are currently talking about home are usually looking for an answer to the rampant ‘fear of strangers’.” In this context, however, “homeland can only mean that it’s about blood and soil: Germany as the homeland of the people who were here first. And therefore also have certain privileges. Here homeland becomes a less frowned upon term for ‘people’ and ‘nation ‘. Heimat is no longer hybrid and purchasable, but code for ‘Germany for the Germans’.”
The BKMO is not alone in its support for Ataman. The German Women’s Council also welcomed her nomination. “We warmly congratulate you!” tweeted the umbrella organization of German women’s organizations immediately after the personal details became known. The lesbian and gay association LSVD also made a positive statement: They have been working “closely, trustingly and very well together” with the New German Media Makers, co-founded by Ataman, for many years.
For 14 years, the NdM have been committed to providing information and mentoring programs to make media editorial offices more diverse and to pave the way for more members of minority groups to enter journalism. For four years he has been awarding the negative “Golden Potato” prize for the “most underground reporting” on the immigration society. The first winner was the editor-in-chief of the Bild newspaper, Julian Reichelt, who has since been fired.
The NdM ironically justified the choice of vegetables at the time by saying that the potato was the most German of all and also had a flawless migration background – it came from South America.
So far, only a few FDP deputies are known of the traffic light deputies who do not want to vote for them. Ataman can even count on at least one vote from the CDU. The former candidate for Chancellor of the Union Armin Laschet, for whom she once worked as a speechwriter, was delighted immediately after the nomination: “Dear @FerdaAtaman, I congratulate you from the bottom of my heart on your appointment as the new Federal Commissioner for Anti-Discrimination. You really deserve it.” Now she can “optimally use her many years of professional and voluntary work for diversity in our country. Good luck!”