More than a thousand leftist voters assembled as last Wednesday ended in this eastern German city to console one another seeing their worst nightmare come true. Their candidate Bodo Ramelow, the incumbent state premier, had been defeated. Worse for them, Chancellor Angela Merkel’s party had joined hands with a far-right party for the first time since 1945. Was the chancellor’s romance with an unmitigated influx of refugees into her country over? Was she again a Christian conservative the way her party was conceived at its inception? Here’s a story from German broadcaster Deutsche Welle.
The frustration was all-pervading. Hennig-Wellsow ranted in the chamber as, at the same time literally, leftist voters picketed on the steps of the parliament while Kemmerich delivered his acceptance speech inside.
The protest felt different, according to Julian Degen, assistant to the local left outfit leader Susanne Hennig-Wellsow. “It’s so hard to get people on the streets in Erfurt,” he said, “but on Wednesday, I talked to people who would never normally go to a demonstration. People just walked out of work to join us.” According to him, the police were sympathetic to their ’cause’.
They should have been angry with their own ‘liberal’ Freie Demokratische Partei (FDP), but they were venting their frustration on Merkel’s Christlich Demokratische Union Deutschlands (CDU). They wish at least five Thuringian parliamentarians had abstained to see pro-market Free Democrats’ Thomas Kemmerich is not through. Now the leftist party leader Christian Lindner and CDU chief Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer were in for a topsy-turvy week. Three CDU delegates did not cast their votes but two did, and Kemmerich won by a vote.
Left party’s state parliament member Katja Maurer said, “Right until the end we hoped there would be people in the CDU who under no circumstances would make common cause with the AfD.” She spent the night swinging between an unpleasant parliamentary session, disturbed party meetings and protests outside. “I’ve never seen so many people, including me, cry because of an election,” she said. On the Deutsche Welle channel, she said, “It was a shock because we realised that our position, believing that the CDU still had a spark of democratic will, was naïve.”
The Erfurt CDU did not respond to DW‘s request for an interview on Saturday. No other party represented in Thuringia’s parliament, except the left, did either.
The leftists in this German city are distraught as this kind of brings an end to Governor Ramelow’s era. In the European country that had turned lib-left to a suicidal extent romancing multiculturalism it was culturally not equipped to handle due to its long Christian history, this governor’s personal ratings went above 60% at times. It indicated that, in the demographics of this German city, there were now liberals who were not necessarily affiliated to the left.
Then begins the resemblance with the strange political bedfellows of India: the left and the Muslims. Ahmadiyya mosque spokesman Suleman Malik joined the demonstrations, leading Erfurt’s Muslim community. He told the German news broadcaster, “It’s shameful when, out of power interests and political strategy, a democratic vote is used to accommodate anti-democratic parliamentarians.”
“Of course we took to the streets because we saw that these enemies of democracy were threatening our basic democratic order. For me, it was a slap in the face for democracy, what happened here,” he said, as though echoing the squatting protesters of Shaheen Bagh of Delhi in faraway India.
Germany can perhaps take more of this romance as Malik belongs to the sect that is an outcast in Pakistan and other radically Islamic countries. When Ramelow extended to them a hand of friendship in November 2018 by throwing his weight behind the construction of an Ahmadiyya mosque, he was still away from hobnobbing with the Syrians whose influx has changed the shape of the country to a near-unrecognisable extent.
Malik says it will be eastern Germany’s first “visible” mosque outside Berlin, replete with a minaret and a dome, not allowed in other Christian-dominated ‘secular’ countries, for instance in considerable France as much as in negligible Iceland. “This is important, so we can show we are part of society, and people can come and meet Muslims,” the minority Muslim guy said on Saturday. “This is exactly the kind of place where prejudice can be broken down,” he added.
Malik is now no longer sure of the fate the mosque, which they had managed to secure after 15 years of persuading the local powers-that-be, will meet with Kemmerich at the helm under the influence of nationalists Alternative für Deutschland. After they got the land, maintaining the mosque involves seeking donations and planning permission, a Herculean task in a European city where civic laws are deliberately designed in a manner to discourage the rearing of a new, hitherto alien culture’s heads. For example, if you need to build a temple or a mosque in France, the town goes for a referendum where the Christian majority normally rules the proposal out. And they have a legitimate rationale for this ‘intolerance’. In France, a place of worship, regardless of the community it belongs to, has to be built of taxpayers’ money. So, the Christian taxpayers question why they should pay for a place of worship of another community they hardly relate to!
In this German city, Christian ‘intolerance’ surfaced not by means of a municipal rule as in France. Rather, the private sector refused to cooperate. Companies refused the contract with the excuse they wouldn’t get into a hostile territory, which, they said, did not serve their business interest. “And,” Malik says, “anti-democratic forces in parliament stirred up that fear.”
However, what Malik foresees can only create a stronger Christian backlash. The mosque spokesman is seeing the size of his community swell, with Muslims returning to Erfurt, seeing him secure the site for the Ahmadiyya place of worship.
Already, some miscreants dumped corpses of pigs in the arena to desecrate it. Khinzeer, Arabic for pig, is harām in Islam across sects. Malik says members of his community received death threats online.