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Racism in times of the corona crisis

Updated: Apr 10

by German MP Christine Buchholz (die LINKE)

All Muslims have been placed under general suspicion. Picture: Karsten

The Corona crisis in particular requires us to raise our voices against racism! This crisis holds a magnifying glass to our society’s failings.


A fire swept through the Moria camp on the Greek island of Lesbos in mid-March, killing a child. 25,000 people live in this camp – a camp that was originally planned to hold 3,000 people. How are the people within this camp supposed to protect themselves from the Corona virus? There is not even sufficient running water or soap.


German citizens are being brought back to Germany from all over the world. At the same time, the acceptance of refugees into the country has been halted. Even in times of Corona it is crucial to protest Europe’s isolationist policies. The camps situated on Europe’s external borders must be closed the people must be granted shelter in the EU under humane conditions.


Within Germany as well, refugees are degraded to second-class citizens every day. Corona exacerbates what was previously untenable.


In Suhl, Thuringia, a refugee residence was quarantined in mid-March. When the residents protested, the police brought their entire arsenal: tanks, water cannons, even SWAT teams. In such tightly packed centers, with their shared shower rooms, bathrooms, and kitchens, it is hardly possible to keep the necessary distance. For this reason, housing must be made available to refugees. For example, housing space may be found in hotels, and empty properties, bought for speculative purposes, can be expropriated.


Now the AfD is trying to portray refugees and migrants as a threat, as carriers of the Corona virus in this crisis. The AfD’s motto has always been isolation – not international solidarity. Beatrix von Storch writes, "In order to protect citizens in Germany, it is urgently necessary for the Federal Government to make use of the EU special provision which allows for the rejection of asylum-seekers. The nation state is able to protect its citizens if it wants to and if it acts decisively".


The AfD is trying to stir up racism and nationalism in their usual manner. We must not let them get away with this. That is why we continue to emphasize the fact that they are the political arm of right-wing terrorism, and as such share responsibility for a societal climate in which murders, such as those committed in Kassel, Halle, or Hanau, are possible.


Daily and structural racism exacerbate the consequences of the Corona pandemic. The poverty rate among migrants is twice as high as among non-migrants. This means more cramped housing conditions and insecure working conditions, both of which render the crisis even more difficult to cope with.


Migrants are also at a particular disadvantage in the school system. A teacher from Neukölln raised the alarm that, for many children from families with several siblings and cramped living conditions, there is literally no room for homeschooling.


Restrictions on the right to leave one’s home have now been taken by the federal and state governments. These also have a greater impact on migrants, as their more cramped living conditions make it more difficult for them to stay at home.


In addition, it is foreseeable that the police, who monitor compliance with the rules, will intensify racial profiling practices. Racial profiling is the monitoring of individuals who are considered to be suspects bases on racist stereotypes. This practice has been in place because the police have the right to carry out checks in certain situations, regardless of whether the individuals in question are suspected of any wrongdoing; this right has now been expanded. There is the danger that the police will increasingly stop Muslims or others of a migrant background.


This is why we must stress the fact that the coronavirus knows nothing of borders, nationalities, religions, or skin colors. What we all benefit from is not racism but rather a good healthcare system, sufficient housing, and aid, available to everyone. The virus must be combated globally, and for that we need international solidarity and a clear rejection of all forms of racism.


This article first appeared on the freiheitsliebe Website. Translation by Emily Pollak. Reproduced with permission.