The Federal Government's Anti-Racism Commissioner, Reem Alabali-Radovan, believes that additional measures against racism and discrimination in public authorities are necessary. A quota for the employment of people with a migrant background in the federal administration, as demanded by some migrant associations, is not the right way from the SPD politician's point of view, as she explains in an interview with the German Press Agency.
"On the one hand, there is no political majority for a quota, but I also see it as very difficult in terms of content," she told the dpa. The problems started with terms such as the so-called migration background. According to the definition of the Federal Statistical Office, someone has a migration background if he or she or at least one parent was not born with German citizenship.
Among them, however, are people "who structurally don't actually experience any social hurdles," the Minister of State pointed out. On the other hand, there are people who, according to the previous definition, do not have a migration background - for example because they live in Germany in the third and fourth generation - but are nevertheless affected by racism and discrimination in everyday life and encounter difficulties.
Those affected complain, among other things, of racial profiling
The coalition agreement between the SPD, Greens and FDP states: "In the federal administration and in companies with federal participation, we are introducing a holistic diversity strategy with specific support measures, targets and measures for cultural change." The Ministry of the Interior under Nancy Faeser (SPD) and the department of Family Minister Lisa Paus (Greens) are in charge.
As the Federal Government Commissioner for Integration, Alabali-Radovan is also responsible for the needs of refugees. A year ago, the cabinet also gave her the newly created task of anti-racism officer. She has ten million euros at her disposal to support victim initiatives, counseling centers and other projects in this area.
Allegations of suspected racial profiling are among the complaints frequently raised by those affected. This means random checks based on external characteristics. "Racial profiling is forbidden, that's what our basic law stipulates: everyone is to be treated equally," emphasizes the anti-racism officer. From studies and reports from those affected, however, it is known "that many people still experience racial profiling".
Control receipt could be a possible measure
In order to get a better picture, she set up a round table on racism and the police. A possible improvement that was discussed concerns a "possible obligation to issue a control receipt". This is already being practiced in Bremen, but so far only in so-called danger areas. If victims who are stopped or searched by the police could receive a certificate, they would have the opportunity to have these controls checked by a complaints office afterwards, says Alabali-Radovan. "Because so far, such controls have not been documented and complaints often come to nothing."
The Greens could imagine including the obligation to issue such a "receipt" in the amendment to the Federal Police Act, which the government is currently discussing. If there is nothing about this in the draft law, which is soon to be discussed in the cabinet, the Greens parliamentary group is likely to raise the issue in the Bundestag.
However, the anti-racism commissioner sees her task not only in achieving improvements in the political arena. She also wants to have an impact on society and make those affected heard, as she says. For example, it is about explaining why even the supposedly friendly sentence "But you speak good German" can be understood as discrimination, depending on the context. Because depending on who says that to whom, the statement is included: "I'm surprised that you speak so well, although you don't belong, because you look the way you look or because of your name".
Alabali-Radovan, who came to Germany at primary school age, is expecting a child soon. That is why she is currently not in her office in the Chancellery. She says that she herself was once asked in the hospital whether she needed language mediation. It is good that there is such help for those who need it. The SPD politician from Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania does not think it is good that she was obviously asked about it because of her name or her appearance. At the same time, she states: "But it is clear that we naturally have much more urgent problems in the area of racism, because it is about structures and institutional dimensions."